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Graduating to Independent Living in Pennsylvania
“Berisford was always an A or B student. He played basketball and did everything that other kids did at his age. One day he came home, and I saw it in his eyes that something was wrong. He was 20 when he was diagnosed with a mental illness. For too long he suffered in silence. He went through of period of homelessness and addiction. I told him, Mom will always be here for you when you're ready. He is bipolar and schizoaffective,” said Enid Knightner regarding her son, Berisford England, during his commencement celebration on Thursday, July 18th.
Valedictorian Berisford England was one of five adults with serious psychiatric disabilities who graduated last week from Pennsylvania Institute for Community Living (PICL) Grove House, the first transitional program in Montgomery County, PA, and provides residential services and treatment for mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Currently, Mr. England is entering his second year in the theatre and sports management program at Montgomery County Community College.
Keynote speaker, PA State Representative Thomas P. Murt recognized the work the graduates have demonstrated, “You’ve shown that those people who wrestle with addiction can shatter the cycle that often leads people from hospitalization to hopelessness. By completing this program, you’ve told the world that you have overcome obstacles that only very few have ever done.” The Senator also challenged them, “So, ask yourself who your heroes are and what you can learn from them. Then apply those lessons and become a hero to those who struggling with their own addictions.”
Consumers at PICL Grove House and each graduate continuously are learning how to manage their mental illness and to overcome addiction, while gaining life skills. According to Christina Mansfield, Executive Director, PICL, “Every mile marker that these men and women reach is extraordinary. Recovery is an ongoing, life-long process. There may be slips along the way; someone can be sober for an extended period of time or a short period and then relapse.”
The Pennsylvania Institute for Community Living (PICL) is a 15-bed modified therapeutic community residence for men and women with co-occurring psychiatric and substance abuse disorders. This transitional program offers integrated self-help, recovery-oriented treatment along with case management, 24-hour staffing, vocational services and placement in permanent housing. PICL is an incorporated subsidiary of the Institute for Community Living (ICL) and is ICL’s first venture out of New York State.
Sarah Abramson, Program Director, and Christina Mansfield, Executive Director,
PICL Grove House, proudly watch as recent graduate and Valedictorian
Berisford England is congratulated by commencement speaker,
PA State Representative Thomas P. Murt.
Hats off to four of the recent graduates from PICL Grove House. Over several years, these adults, each of whom have serious psychiatric disabilities, worked hard to gain life skills and the ability to manage their mental illness while overcoming addiction. Each is ready and eager to lead productive and independent lives as good neighbors in the community.
About Our Graduates
While at PICL, Greg was a quiet man, yet willingly shared wisdom with the community. Greg was committed to the working the PICL program and took pride in his recovery.
Berisford is a strong, committed, intelligent young man who is driven to succeed. PICL staff was privileged to be able to watch Berisford grow and change as he progressed through the program. Berisford looks forward to improving his opportunities by continuing his education.
Greg is an intelligent, kind, compassionate man who was always willing to help out the PICL community. One of Greg’s many talents is his knowledge of all things technical. He also shared his love of 80’s music and technology with the community.
Tiffany is truly a ball of sunshine with her energy, love and compassionate. Tiffany was forever making arts and crafts to share with the community. She was an integral part of the PICL community for a long time, and her presence and light-hearted spirit will truly be missed.
Terrell, a patient, kind-hearted and easy-going man who lived at PICL for over than eight years. Terrell would always check in with staff, making sure that staff was “doing ok.”
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