June 2014 BBH Homefront Newsletter
Just before he turned 30, Robbi learned he was HIV-positive. “I was scared,” he says. “Terrified.”
Depression set in and during the next nine months he was hospitalized twice after suicide attempts. He lost his job, his boyfriend, his housing, and his cat.
Robbi came to Bailey-Boushay House in November 2013. “I had that ‘things couldn’t get worse’ feeling,” he says. “If I hadn’t come to Bailey-Boushay, I probably would not have made it to Christmas. I had no options.”
Getting on HIV medication was his top priority. After several tries, he also found an antidepressant that helped. He’s also returned to his normal weight by regaining 30 pounds.
“Surprisingly enough, I’m still in pretty good health,” he says. “I’m not sick, I have no fever. Sometimes I have some blood pressure issues.”
Even more surprising, he says, is that he’s found a community that values him.
Robbi’s been estranged from his family since high school.
“I came out to them when I was 16. That’s the first time I got depressed,” he says.
For two years his parents tried to “pray the gay away.” First they sent him to daily sessions with an “ex-gay” counselor and later to shock therapy.
“I kept saying I don’t want to change. I’ve accepted who I am,” remembers Robbi.
Robbi left home at 18 and even after all these years, he says, “I have to hope that one day they’ll miss me and call.”
“Bailey-Boushay is my family now,” Robbi says. “Coming here made me feel not alone, that I’m not the only person going through this, and I realized I’m not doing this by myself.”
He’s unsure what is coming next: a home? Or a job? He’s looking for both. “And I’m coming in almost daily because I feel like I need that open arm, that caring, that social interaction.”
He’s hopeful about the future: “I want to see my fifties and sixties — hell, even my seventies and eighties.”
[See more topics]
|Bailey-Boushay House volunteers are recognized at an
This past April, the team members and clients took time to celebrate and honor the amazing 120 volunteers who help make Bailey-Boushay House a community of support and friendship. The volunteers with long-term service records of 10, 15, 20 and 20-plus years were also recognized for their dedication.
Wendy Pearson, Bailey-Boushay House Board president; Brian Knowles, executive director; and David Pavlick, volunteer program manager, each spoke to the crowd and expressed their gratitude for the hard work the volunteers have done over the past year. “Without these volunteers, we would not be able to offer the same level of support and unique services to our clients and residents,” says David.
BBH is a popular organization for volunteers who are interested in careers in health and social services. Once approved, they commit to weekly shifts of two to four hours for six months at a time. The services volunteers provide are critical and vary from haircuts to pet therapy, running the reception desk to providing comfort and friendship to clients and residents. So far this year, volunteers have donated more than 7,300 hours of unpaid service, roughly the equivalent of adding four fulltime team members.
Learn more about volunteering at Bailey-Boushay House.