Employment Fuels Clarence Smith’s Hopes of Reaching Future Life Goals

Person supported Clarence Smith enjoys time with his teen daughter during a family celebration.

Clarence Smith, left, poses with his daughter, Jazir, during her recent birthday celebration.

Clarence Smith would rather look forward to where life is leading him, not in the rearview mirror.

Looking behind, he catches glimpses of surviving difficult life experiences such as recovering from a serious cancer diagnosis, witnessing violent crimes in an impoverished neighborhood and weathering the breakup of a long-term relationship.

After receiving Monarch services, his future is hopeful and brimming with opportunities. Smith is grateful for the helping hands that have assisted and supported him in managing mental health diagnoses and securing a job.

Latoya Thomas is part of the Monarch team who offered support. As an employment support professional with the Robeson Individual Placement and Support (IPS) team, Thomas and Smith began working together in July 2020.

IPS, a person-centered, behavioral health program focusing on choosing, acquiring and maintaining employment, serves as a support network for an individual diagnosed with mental health issues who is pursuing employment goals.

Smith doesn’t care what her official title is because he calls her “a blessing.”

Through their conversations, Smith found in Thomas someone who finally listened to him and took seriously his hopes for the future that involved his love of cooking, a legacy passed down from his late father, Michael: “She sat down and listened to me talk and understood where I was coming from. She guided me and that helped me find a job.”

After confiding in his brother, Smith, 42, reached out for help through Monarch’s Robeson Behavioral Health Outpatient clinic to manage the stressful life events. Diagnosed with anxiety, depression and adjustment disorder, an emotional or behavioral reaction to a stressful event or change in a person’s life, Smith is glad that he asked for assistance.

Other Monarch services Smith receives include those from the Community Support Team (CST), a program extending community-based services for adults with persistent mental illness, peer support and medication management.

Together, Smith, Thomas and Breanna Jackson, employment peer mentor who is also part of the Robeson IPS team, collaborated to come up with person-centered, life goals; a crisis plan; career profile; available job opportunities; as well as resources within the community for transportation and housing.

Initial jobs searches went well with Smith starting at positions that, in the end, didn’t suit him. The IPS team continued encouraging Smith’s job search until he found his current role at the Fairmont McDonald’s where he is tasked with maintaining facility repairs.

“Clarence was determined to make a better life for himself and his daughter,” Thomas expressed, noting that with efforts from IPS, CST and the Southeastern Family Violence Center, a community advocacy group for domestic abuse survivors and individuals who are experiencing homelessness, they were able to secure housing for the two.

Smith is also pursuing a lifelong dream of owning a food truck in memory of his father, who was well known within the community for his culinary talents which he passed on to his son. The IPS team helped him secure a food truck that Smith is currently repairing. Plans are to take the food truck to local, community events where attendees can sample Smith’s mac and cheese, salmon, ribs and steaks.

Remembering Smith when he first began receiving Monarch’s IPS services, Thomas said he was doing all that he could to heal both physically and mentally. Fast forward to today and a thriving, feet-planted-firmly-in-the-ground man stands to face the future. The IPS team is impressed with his perseverance.

“He was very active during this process and very teachable. He learned the importance of communication and he is a very intelligent man who knows exactly what he wants,” Thomas shared. “He is proud that he can provide an honest life for his daughter. He is a very giving and caring person.”

Smith said that compliment means everything to him. “Where I came from and from where everything started, it shows how my life has changed. Now I do more talking with the young kids more than anything. I can help someone that might be in similar circumstances,” he expressed.

For more information about IPS services, please call (866) 272-7826 or visit our Enhanced Services website page.

Posted on: Monday August 23, 2021