Kenneth Payne: A Proud OMNI Volunteer

By August 7, 2018 June 9th, 2019 No Comments

As a kid, Kenneth Payne didn’t take any medication for his illness, because his symptoms were manageable. He had never been diagnosed until he came to California about 7 years ago.

He coped well when he was younger. Now 45 years old, in his early 20’s he was pursuing his education and working in New York. He has two Associates degrees, one in Business Management and another in Accounting, from a community college there. His employer was going to send him to a program to become a CPA. Ultimately, life stressors prevented his from pursuing it. The high cost of living, as well as a desire to be closer to his parents, prompted a move to Virginia. “I didn’t think I could make it [in New York].”

In Virginia, he got a job working in Wal Mart’s Business Department. After some time, symptoms of his illness became more prominent. “I was starting to have nose bleeds out of nowhere and I started talking to myself.” He didn’t understand where it was coming from and thought an extended break would help. He requested a one-year leave of absence in 2011, thinking a break would relieve the stress that was causing his symptoms.

Instead of returning, he decided to move to San Jose to be near his brother. In San Jose, Kenneth was eventually diagnosed with a combination of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and manic depression. He was living in a board and care when the owner decided to close the facility. Other board and cares in San Jose were charging $1200-$1400 a month, more than Kenneth was now receiving in social security. He ended up moving to another board and care here in Salinas, New Horizon, which was cheaper than the ones in San Jose, but was still struggling with the rent at $1024 a month.

During that time, about 4 years ago, he started coming to Interim’s OMNI Resource Center. Meanwhile, his case worker at the County placed him on Interim’s waitlists for permanent housing. About a year ago, he was able to access Interim’s Lupine Gardens permanent housing program after being on the waitlist for three years.

He appreciates the social interaction at the OMNI Resource Center, as well as the friendly, accepting environment that OMNI represents and promotes. Initially he attended the groups held there, like Anger Management, Wellness Recovery Action Plans, Whole Health, Setting Boundaries, and others. OMNI holds groups designed to help people learn to address their mental health challenges. They also hold many social activities and events. Operating like a drop-in center, the OMNI Resource Center is open to the community No referral is required. He now volunteers there every day, and enjoys helping his peers.

Life is much less stressful for Kenneth now, which also helps him manage his illness better. His rent is manageable at 30% of his income, which allows him to be able to pay for more of his basic needs. He’s grateful to Interim for all of the services they offer. He’d like to eventually move back to Virginia, where his sister still lives, but isn’t sure he’s ready to return to work. Until then, Interim will provide him with much needed stability.