Independent living: Residents thrive at Brandi’s Hope

Published 7:00 am Saturday, December 13, 2014

There are many unique people in Pearl River County. Some volunteer their time and talents to worthy causes while others overcome enormous daily obstacles in order to live independently.
Brandi’s Hope Community Services in Picayune is home to at least three of these unique individuals.
According to facility literature, Brandi’s Hope provides support in day service, pre-vocational services, home and community supports, supported employment, community and in-home nursing respite and supervised residential habilitation to adults who are intellectually and developmentally disabled.

The Singing Gardner
Thirty-five-year-old Mary Seals said she loves to sing country and church music. She is a member of the Louisiana Angels and was recently named queen at one of their events.
Seals has been a client at Brandi’s Hope for the past seven months and said she loves it. She was born and raised in Poplarville and is a graduate of Poplarville High School.
“I lived with my mama for a while after I got my diploma,” Seals said. “When she passed away, I moved in with my aunt. After a while, I told my aunt I knew she couldn’t take care of me, so I moved into Brandi’s Hope because it was best for me.”
Brandi’s Hope provides supervised living facilities located throughout Picayune.
Seals said along with her intellectual disability, she has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, which contributes to her anger management problems.
“They have group meetings here and we talk about dealing with anger management,” Seals said. “Instead of blowing up, I have learned to talk about what’s bothering me.”
Seals has also learned how to live an independent life and budget her salary from her job at Econo-Lodge. Since she is a client at Brandi’s Hope, Seals benefits from their assisted employment program. Her job coach, Selena, helps her during the workday.
“I work in the garden at the Econo-Lodge,” Seals said. “I plant flowers, pull weeds and sweep the parking lot.”
Seals also makes fire starters out of wax and newspaper when she is at Brandi’s Hope’s daytime facilities.
“The people are so nice here,” Seals said. “They teach you how to keep your cool. I used to scream, lose my temper and blackout and sometimes hurt people without realizing. I’m glad to be here. It’s where I need to be.”

The Volunteer

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Forty-year-old Carla Spiers was born and raised in Picayune and graduated from Picayune Memorial High School in 1992. She was a client at the former Picayune Industries, which is now Brandi’s Hope.
Carla has cerebral palsy and relies on the use of a motorized chair for mobility, but that doesn’t prohibit her from working at her cookie cart or volunteering at the local nursing home.
“I sell cookies, pickles, chips, honeybuns and danishes at my cart in the county government building on Goodyear Blvd.,” Spiers said. “In my spare time, I volunteer at the nursing home. I travel up and down the hallways and knock on doors to see if residents need anything and if I’m able to get it for them.”
Spiers also bags the fire starters that Seals makes.
She too lives in a supervised living setting and in her free time likes to draw, color and take walks with her mother, grandmother, sister and her niece and nephew. She also enjoys eating at restaurants and her favorite is El Mariachi’s.

The Saints Fan

Rex Gibson, 54, was born and raised in New Orleans, La. and loves to watch the New Orleans Saints play football and said he has been disappointed with their performance this season.
He lives in Picayune under the supervision of the center’s caregivers and has worked at the Klothes Klozet in Poplarville since 2010.
“I vacuum, mop and clean the bathrooms,” Gibson said. “It’s a good job and I like my boss.”
Gibson’s mother lives in Texas and he enjoys visiting her. He also enjoys shopping at Wal-Mart for shoes, cleaning his apartment and listening to blues recording artist B.B. King.
“It’s good to live here at Brandi’s Hope,” Gibson said. “It makes me feel independent.”

Supportive Professional

Pat Stockstill has been working with the intellectually disabled for the past 21 years and said it’s the most rewarding job a person can have.
Stockstill is a direct support professional. She works the night shift at the supervised living facility where Seals makes her home.
“I assist the residents with cooking, cleaning and I teach them the proper way to grocery shop,” Stockstill said.
Twenty-one-years ago, Stockstill took a pay cut to work with Picayune Industries.
“It’s not about the money,” Stockstill said. “The rewards you get from these individuals are far greater. They love you and appreciate all that you do. They are the same as we are. It’s one big family here.”