Client Stories

CLICK HERE to view an inspirational video about two of our tenants living in McKinley Grove!

The following individuals have willingly chosen to share their personal stories in the hope that it would help others in similar circumstances.   They come from different backgrounds and suffer from a variety of mental illnesses.   They went from homelessness to their own home with the help of Extended Housing – a significant achievement and a milestone in turning their lives around.  All strive to get better, remain independent, and be a contributing member in the community.

Quintina Smith, age 35, has six children and was a nursing assistant at one time. She struggles with bipolar, schizophrenia, and manic depression. She has spent time in prison after stealing. She could not afford a babysitter so she could not look for work. She and her six children have lived at Project Hope and with various friends. She can no longer work as a nursing assistant because of her criminal record.

Quintina’s painful journey eventually led her to Mental Health Court where she was enrolled in a 2 year program. The Families of Promise Program initiated Quintina’s acceptance on Extended Housing’s Shelter Plus Care program. Quintina then worked with Denise at Extended Housing on goals to maintain housing and be a productive member of society.  Note: Quintina’s family was chosen for the annual Bella Donna Salon and Spa tradition to host a Holiday Tree and collect gifts for one of Extended Housing’s needy families. Every year Bella Donna decorates their Holiday Tree with paper ornaments that contain holiday wish list items for family members.

Quintina is now free from crime, has graduated from the Lake County Mental Health Court program, and is pursuing her GED (April).   She is living in an apartment and will be moving into a home soon. She now understands more about her illness and is confident and proud of where she is today.

Quintina thanks the following organizations for her success: Extended Housing, Catholic Charities’ Families of Promise, Neighboring, DJFS, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Judge Trebets and the Mental Health Court, and the YMCA.

Note:  Quintina was selected to receive the Consumer Achievement Award at the Lake County ADAMHS Board Annual Meeting (6/18/12).  Congratulations!

Cassandra Horton, 29, single, was living with her mother, who worked as an Administrative Assistant.   Cassandra has bipolar disorder and was working at a daycare.   When her mother hurt her back and could no longer work Cassandra had to stay at home to take care of her.  They were at risk of losing their home.   Extended Housing provided subsidies so that they could stay in their home.

Cassandra was able to get her SSDI and asked to be taken off the housing subsidy program.  She works and takes care of her mother.

Edward Hopko, 48, single, was homeless, living at a veteran’s house and then McNaughton.  He was a VA outpatient and suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  Ed drank himself into homelessness.… He is a high school graduate with 1-1/2 years of college and is getting his CDC Certification.

Ed has been sober for 4 yrs. and lives in his own apartment.  He volunteers at Lake Co. Jail – JTP.  He feels really good and is back on track.  Ed was interviewed by the Lake County News Herald.  (Read more in the News Herald.)

George Vliet, 51, has bipolar and anger issues and was separated from his wife and had problems with alcohol.  He used to do grocery store stocking and various temp jobs.  George grew up on a farm in NJ, was in and out of prison for B&E, Burglary, Auto Theft, and possession of weapons.  All crimes were committed against his family who pressed charges.  Released in 1993 from prison and moved to PA where he married a lady, his pen pal while in prison.  In 1995 he and his wife moved to SC.  In 1998 he separated from his wife, lost his steel mill job and took temp jobs until 2008.  2009, he worked at a carnival and met Trish and they came up here where he worked for John Murphy, Rev. Johnson and Pastor Maribel.  He stayed in houses where he did work and ended up living under a house in the winter and then a tent and a homeless camp.  2009, he started working for Neighboring where he got medication and worked with a case manager.

In 2010, George got an SPC Voucher from Extended Housing and moved to an apartment in Painesville.  Once he got his housing he started volunteering at churches and giving back to the community.  He is scheduled to begin the Ladders to Lakeland program so he can get his GED and take some college classes.

Steve Gielink, age 48, is single with a high school degree and 2 years of college.  He was a roofer by trade.  He has a head injury from a car accident, arthritis, and back pain.  He also has PTSD and lots of anxiety and depression.  Steve lost his house after the car accident when he was in the hospital.  He stayed with parents and when that no longer was working he went to a homeless shelter.  He kept getting into trouble and ended up in prison.   He slept outside in a tent.  Extended Housing reached out to Steve and helped him get on the Shelter Plus Care program.

Steve lives in an apartment and has become very active in his community.  He volunteers at a few different places.  He has started doing his art again and feels that keeping busy and being productive helps keep him from doing bad.  He feels good that he is independent.