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Review for Center For Respite Care, Inc., Cincinnati, OH, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I'd like to share a letter written by a fellow board member of the Center for Respite Care. He died in 2011, shortly after writing this letter. RD

"My name is Alonzo Cockrell. My life would appear to be as normal as anyone else. I grew up in College Hill and graduated from Aiken High School, where I played the trombone and also played football. I was married for 17 years and have two beautiful daughters, ages 13 and 23. But I also have a different story. My hope is that you will find it inspiring and a wonderful example of how Center for Respite Care changes lives. I can say that because I lived here.

"I worked 19 years for the same employer. I never needed insurance a day in my life. Never took any medications other than aspirin for a headache. And then one day I got sick. I was told I had congestive heart failure, and my entire life turned upside-down. I lost my job, my home, my car. I had absolutely nothing, and was hospitalized. When the nurses asked me what my medical recovery plan looked like, I told them I had no idea — I was homeless. They suggested the Center for Respite Care, a place that could help me with my situation. I accepted.

"I remember everything about my arrival at Respite Care. It was a cool evening in September at 5:45. I remember arriving feeling fearful and alone, in a building full of strange people I didn’t know. I’d never been in a situation like that, and it was intimidating.

"After admission, my biggest struggle was accepting my diagnosis: I’m a big, healthy guy, and now doctors were telling me I would have to take 13 pills every day if I wanted to live! All I could think of was that I was fine a couple of months ago, and now I’m not?! How was I going to pay for all this medication? What was I going to do?

"And then I met Dr. Donovan. He played the biggest role in helping me accept my diagnosis. His endless encouragement helped me understand that in order to see another day, I had to stick to a daily regimen of medication. With his guidance and the support of the staff, I recuperated. They taught me how to live with my heart condition. I learned what I needed to do to be healthy. I was guided through the process of moving into a Respite Permanent Housing apartment. Though I had been denied twice for SSDI (Social Security Disability Income), staff helped me re-apply. I was able to file an appeal and now have permanent SSDI income. They helped me navigate the often complex processes to make sure I could afford my medication. The staff at Respite Care provided me a way out of what I was trapped in: sickness and homelessness.

"I consider myself one of the lucky ones: I’m here, I’m living - I am blessed with this community, I’m continuing on and I want to give back. One of my biggest joys was being asked to serve on the board of Respite Care where I advocate for clients. I listen; I know what they’re feeling; I hear what’s on their mind; I ask about their long-term outlook. They are alone and isolated, and I can offer hope that they will recover. I make a difference, and that’s important to me.

"I’d like to leave you with this last thought about Respite Care: never let it go away. It’s the best place many people have never heard of. Please tell my story to others; shout it from the seven hills! Let them know how critical Respite Care is to our community. They’ve impacted my life and the lives of many others. I know that I speak for them in expressing my gratitude!"

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

never let it go away.

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Role:  Board Member