"Each of us is a person first" is a core value at Advocates and one that we strive to practice in our work every day. This past March, individuals who receive Advocates services, their family members and staff were invited to share their reflections about the importance and significance of "person first" in their lives for our annual essay contest. Several prizes were awarded to winners in six categories. We're pleased to be able to share their heartfelt and insightful stories with you here.

First Prize Winners

"What I've experienced of humans as I've grown is people have an overwhelming need to label others. One reason why is to identify with those we perceived to be "like" us..." Read full story.

"Wow. I guess that for me is the first thing that comes to mind, when somebody asks me, 'Who are you?'..." Read full story.

"I've always put people first. I've always been respectful of others. I heave learned this through different ways and it has taken me a while to get here. My experiences have led me to the person that I am today..." Read full story.

"In the 5 years that I've worked at Advocates I've learned the value in having a "person first" mind set when attempting to create relationships with the individual I support. There have been times when I've failed to do this..." Read full story.

"My Father, John J. O'Toole, passed away at age 74. I still think about him. He was a remarkable human being. He had bipolar illness. He was sick at age 40. He had shock therapy and spent many days on the sofa. Despite his problems, we never defined him as having a mental illness, he was my Father first..." Read full story.

"Each of Us Is a Person First, I believe means we all have certain needs, because we are all thinking and breathing no matter of our needs, mental and/or physical. First, I try not to treat anyone in the way in which I want anyone to treat me..." Read full story.

Second Prize Winners

"a Person is a human being, not a thing or label that should be treated
Equally regardless of their race, ethnicity, background and not by their mental illness. A human being, both you or I should be treated with
Respect and regard..." Read full poem.

"To me, we are all people. We are human beings. It doesn't matter what color our skin is, our physical appearance, the religion we follow, or our mental health issues. When you don't look at the person first, you are judging, labeling and following stereotypes, and that causes stigma..." Read full story.

"There have been many times in my life where I have been labeled as someone or something that I'm not. I have been called many names besides my real one too. Sometimes, it hurts down deep inside. Sometimes, I want to just run away from it all..." Read full story.

"I'm Peggy Ryan, I'm a traumatic head injury survivor, and because the brain is an important part of the body, they'll be times when I won't be the person I should be. It all started when I was fifteen. The driver had been drinking that night and he had lost control..." Read full story.

"Without keeping the person first, individuals get lost behind a foreground of assumptions, preconceptions, and-all too often for those of us with psychiatric diagnoses-stigma. There have been too many times the person I am has "disappeared" in this manner..." Read full story.

"I am reminded of a very dear childhood friend, "Linda". I can't remember exactly how we met. I was friends first with her sister "Ruthie". The two sisters lived a block from my house, having moved there when I was about 9 years old..." Read full story.

Third Prize Winners

"Have you ever felt ripped apart from the inside out? Mind, heart, spirit and body shattered? Nerves completely fried? Scared like you will never recover? Feeling like there will never be an end?..." Read full story.

"The Pioneers of Lexington, Massachusetts. 'There was a shot heard 'round the world..' 'It all started here' Well...Unlike the minutemen of days past, the men did not bear arms. Two men were pioneers or minutemen of a different type. Jack Lee and John Long, who reside at the renovated printing press building close to the inviting downtown Lexington area, set out on a personal journey..." Read full story.

"My story starts several years ago. We used to be the best of friends and we did things together. We used to go down the Cape, go swimming together. We went to Six Flags 7 together, out to dinner many times..." Read full story.

"2011 is here. We have made great strides in technology, politics and going green. Yet, we continue to fail in the most basic area of life; humanity. This past September, I had the privilege to accompany several disabled people to a National Self Advocacy Conference in Kansas City, MO..." Read full story.

"My name is Gus,
And I'm a cat.
Please don't judge me
Because of that..." Read full poem.

Advocates Inc., One Clarks Hill, Suite 305, Framingham, MA 01702
508.628.6300 | VP 774.999.0606 | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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Supporting you, your loved ones, your friends, Your neighbors...

Advocates provides support services for people with:
  • Mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities or co-occurring mental illness and developmental disability
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome
  • Autism and pervasive developmental disabilities
  • Acquired or traumatic brain injury
We also provide support services for:
  • Deaf adults with mental illness or a developmental disability
  • Families who are supporting a family member with a disability
  • Elders living in the community who may have a mental illness or substance abuse disorder
  • Adults with a mental health diagnosis in jail or re-entering the community
  • Youth in transition from foster care
  • Individuals and families who are homeless or at risk for homelessness


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