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Project for Community Involvement Programs

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Gail Completes the Circle of Giving at CIP

Kind.  Compassionate.  Encouraging.

That’s how Gail Harbeck describes the CIP staff members who have helped her manage through a debilitating mental illness.  With CIP’s support, Gail can live her greatest life.

The team at CIP has given their best to Gail and she, in turn, has returned the favor – becoming an avid volunteer, supporting others in the community and even serving as a CIP board member.

“The CIP workers are great, so dedicated,” Gail says.  “In the early years, if I had not had their help, I don’t think I could have remained in my home.  I was unable to manage, spending most of my hours just trying to survive my illness.  They’ve helped me maintain my home and health, physical and mental.”

CIP works to empower participants with severe and persistent mental health problems to take responsibility for day-to-day living.  CIP staff members focus on each participant’s strengths to develop strategies to address challenges with problem-solving, social interactions and daily living.

To promote wellness and recovery, the CIP team provides training and assistance that help participants like Gail achieve their own goals and to build self-reliance.

As Gail reflects on the progress she has made, she says, “Boy, have I evolved!”  Today she embraces art as a way to express her feelings and cope with mental illness.  “To be a stronger painter I need to push away my inside censor … free myself up … just as I need to have self-confidence and follow-through in other activities in my daily life.”

Having achieved commercial and professional success as an artist, Gail is now engaged in the community and passionate about giving back.

“When I was in my late teens I was an active volunteer, but then I crashed and burned with depression,” she explains.  “With the help of my CIP care team, I could clearly see that I wanted that back in my life.”

Gail is a wonderful example of how our entire community benefits when everyone is included.  She gives back as a volunteer, teaching art classes to other individuals with disabilities, serving on neighborhood association committees, and helping out various nature organizations.  She says:  “I have been honored to sit on the CIP board since 2012.  The organization’s mission is to listen and learn first, and then to lead.  I am happy to share my perspectives as someone with lived experience with mental illness.”

Just as CIP staff members have been Gail’s weekly cheerleader, she now describes herself as a cheerleader for CIP.  Visualizing an artistic image of an arrow going around, Gail completes the circle of giving.

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