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Member Voices

Lois Lewis: Multi-talented Multi-tasker

Lois Lewis at Bridge House

Lois Lewis at Bridge House

Lois Lewis has worked at Bridge House for fourteen years in a variety of roles. How she got there is an interesting story. She had been working in data processing at Avco Lycoming in Stratford. The company closed and she no longer had a job. During that difficult time, she decided she wanted more experience with computers, so she took the Certificate in Microcomputers for Business at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport.

While a student, she frequently walked by the MERGE mental health program bulletin board and stopped to read stories about different subjects that touched her. She felt the need to help and thought maybe she should change her focus to using computer skills in the mental health field. The more times she passed by and the more articles she read, the more interested she became. Her experience dealing with job loss made her understand others’ struggles and increased her desire to help. She met with the MERGE Mental Health Certificate Program advisor, who encouraged her to take a course called Advocacy in Human Services as a way to learn about the field. The course, taught by Karen Kangas (then at DMHAS, now at Advocacy Unlimited), opened her eyes both to the mental health and advocacy fields. As a result, Lois persuaded HCC administration to make handicapped parking more accessible to those needing it.

She also went on to become a student in the MERGE Mental Health Certificate program. One day, Maureen Cuda of Bridge House spoke to Lois about the Fountain House program clubhouse model and Bridge House, a psychosocial rehabilitation program for adults recovering from the persistent effects of psychiatric illness. Lois was interested in the approach and was also looking for an internship field placement. At that time, increasing computer literacy among staff and members was an urgent Bridge House need. When Maureen learned that Lois was knowledgeable about computers, she immediately invited Lois to do her internship at Bridge House. Lois did so and, after completing the MERGE and Microcomputers for Business certificate programs, has been at Bridge House ever since. At first, she volunteered there while doing data processing work elsewhere. When a full-time Bridge House position became available, she was hired.

Today, Lois helps twenty Bridge House members live successfully in the greater Bridgeport area. Among her many roles as a generalist, she is primarily responsible for all computer-related activities including research, software, and problem-solving. She has also taken the DMHAS-required training that enables her to serve as Bridge House Clients Rights Officer. Lois also does graphic design projects for the program and for fun, along with specialty baking (she is known for her Red Velvet cake), and is an accomplished seamstress.

She notes that, “In this program we build relationships with our members; we can’t do our job without them. The most important thing about this clubhouse is getting people back to work. ”Bridge House helps members obtain outside paid employment. Lois said. She spoke of a member who is now working full time at Aquarion Water Company. “So many wonderful miracles have happened; he is off benefits and has health insurance. This makes it all worthwhile.” Lois hopes that the Workforce Collaborative will be an avenue for persons in recovery including Clubhouse members, to obtain full-time jobs with benefits.

Behavioral health workforce participation is a Lewis family tradition. Lois’ husband works at the Greater Bridgeport Community Mental Health Center; their daughter is a Marriage and Family therapist. Lois is a treasured member of the Bridge House team.

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