Stories of Success

James Macrander

A Story of Recovery

James Macrander’s world seemed to be falling apart. His 12-year marriage ended. He lost his job. Then, when his Social Security benefits dried up, he became homeless.

"I didn't want to rely on the system or my family."

James Macrander’s world seemed to be falling apart. His 12-year marriage ended. He lost his job. Then, when his Social Security benefits dried up, he became homeless.

“My cousin took me in when none of my other family members would,” James said. Even though he spent countless hours a day cleaning and organizing, making sure everything was perfect, the truth was, his life was crumbling around him. James was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and received services at West Lake Center, a program of Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois (MHCCI), now known as Memorial Behavioral Health.

After seeking services at West Lake Center, James looked for a job in Springfield with no luck. He decided to move to Jacksonville where he met Julia DeGroot, an employment specialist with MHCCI’s Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program. The IPS program provides individual counseling, teaches coping skills and gives people the confidence they need to find a job. “James has a very kind soul,” Julia explained. “He is very motivated and enthusiastic. He really wanted to get out there and get a job.” James wanted to become independent. “I didn’t want to rely on the system or my family.”

Julia helped James learn how to navigate situations he might experience at work such as stress and feeling overwhelmed. She also helped him develop a resume, practice his interviewing skills and learn how to conduct a job search.

Despite his attempts, James didn’t find a job right away and felt depressed and ready to give up. Julia encouraged him to keep trying. She persuaded James to give it one more try, so they drove to Wendy’s and filled out a job application together. James went inside to submit his application and walked back out with a big grin on his face. He had an interview the next day! Not only did he get the job at Wendy’s, but he has retained his employment there for more than two years. “When I first started, I would go hide whenever a bus drove in,” he said. “Now when we get busses, I love it. I’ve come a long way. My boss told me I’m one of the best employees he has.”

James recently received a raise and took on added job responsibilities. He has developed a reputation for reliability, as demonstrated by the number of times he has been called in to assist when he is not scheduled to work. “He has dealt with periods of feeling anxious and depressed, but has worked through these things together with me,” Julia said. James has indeed come a long way. He is thriving as a Wendy’s employee and an important member of the Jacksonville community.

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