"I Thought I'd Never Work Again"

All Andy remembers is a truck driving dangerously close behind him. Then his car got hit, and there was a dispute with the driver who hit him. He doesn’t recall anything else. It was his nephew who told him he had almost gone over a bridge. Eight years later, Andy physically lives with the aftermath of that accident every day.

He broke every bone in his body, from his face down to his back, ribs and hip. His skull fractured – there were 20 staples in his skull – resulting in an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).  Andy spent months in hospitals, and the recovery was a difficult process, rough on him and his family. He was in a wheelchair for 9 weeks. He never thought he’d walk again, but the gratitude that he survived kept him going. “They said I was lucky to be alive!”

Still, depression set in during Andy’s recovery. Being unable to work made his days feel boring and aimless. His daily routine was chain-smoking in front of the TV. Excruciating pain often felt unbearable, but thankfully he never got addicted to the prescribed painkillers. Now, to avoid that dilemma, he barely takes any medicine at all. Sometimes, you’ll see him working around Continuum’s building in noticeable physical discomfort. But you’ll never hear him complain.

In fact, Andy is one of the rare people excited to come into work on Mondays. He is so grateful and overjoyed to have been connected to Continuum’s Training and Work Program. Elsa, director of Continuum’s South Central Peer Services which runs the Employment Apprenticeship Program, says there was a bit of concern that Andy would have difficulty working on the Cleaning Crew due to his ABI. His supervisors worked closely with him initially and gave him a checklist so he could create a routine.  With his methodical approach to his work, and wonderful personality, he has proven himself to be a very capable asset to the team. 

Andy’s life has completely transformed since becoming a member of Continuum’s Cleaning Crew. His confidence has grown and he’s been much more attentive to his self-care these days. You should have seen him glowing around the building after he got a haircut with his first paycheck. He’s also walking a lot more and keeping active.

Andy says he loves working here alongside so many kind people. The job gives him something to look forward to every day, and being productive and taking care of himself has been very gratifying and emotionally healing. He has more purpose in life, and he says he is so much happier now that he’s working. “I never thought I’d work again.”

Continuum of Care, Inc.’s mission is to enable people who are challenged with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, addiction, or homelessness to rebuild a meaningful life and thrive in the community.