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Member Nicolette Smith Says TCL Changed Her Life

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — December 20, 2019 — 3 min read
Cardinal Innovations Healthcare member Nicolette Smith says the help she’s received from the organization’s Transitions to Community Living program has changed her life, providing the stability she needs to achieve her best life.

“It changed my life dramatically,” Smith said. “Just being able to live without having to struggle so hard with my condition is unbelievable. I have been blessed by care coordinators and a team and a life that, for the last year, has been unbelievable.”

Smith, 39, was born in Michigan, but raised in Charlotte, N.C. She attended Myers Park High School. In 2001, she was diagnose with schizophrenia, which she said later changed to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, agoraphobia, and depression.

“Being diagnosed with a severe mental illness can cause the onset of depression,” she said.

Smith said she moved back to Michigan with her mother and brother for a while in her 30s, but then decided in 2013 to come home to Charlotte, where she moved in with a friend. She got a job working in hospitality and started learning to become a nail technician.

“I remember when I first started working how scared I was at the fact that if you get sick and you lose your job, you lose everything,” she said. “When I get sick, my symptoms flare up. It immediately makes me withdraw and not want to do things. When I’m sick, the majority of the time I ignore it, but with work it puts a strain on me because I’m not able to do things.”

In 2015, Smith learned about the TCL program that helps individuals who are capable of living independently to get the support they need to find and keep their own home.

“I was handed my keys on August 22, 2015. I’m always still staring at them,” she said. “I’m really peaceful. I’m really quiet. I’m really reserved. There are times that I’m sick. I’ve had bad moments. I’m in therapy. Living in this home has turned me into a very positive person. It’s been a blessing to be a part of this community.”

Cardinal Innovations’ TCL staff helped locate a complex in Charlotte near transportation and shopping that offers Smith a one-bedroom apartment with a sunroom and a community pool. Smith now cleans for a living through a janitorial company and said she likes to apply those cleaning skills to keeping her home neat and orderly.

Smith said she’s in a good place now, and has started working toward earning her high school diploma.

“Nicolette is doing so well that she no longer has a care coordinator assigned to her. She is a true success story,” said TCL Care Coordinator Supervisor Crystal Howard, who was one of the first people at Cardinal Innovations to work with Smith.

Smith credits the team at Cardinal Innovations and its providers with making her experience living independently a successful one for four years now.

“I’ve had a lot of professional support. I don’t know what I would have done without it. With my condition, it gets difficult,” Smith said. “They have been my backbone. They have given me the added support I needed – even my neighbors in my community. If it weren’t for my team that checks on me and gets me to pursue my goals, I wouldn’t be here.”
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