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From Disheartened to Empowered with the ADRC

Post Date:07/26/2017 3:03 PM

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Christine Jeske (far left), Outreach Coordinator at the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Sheboygan County, shares information with Nancy La Pearle and Gary Brendel about the many services offered by the ADRC to Sheboygan County residents. (Photo: Miranda Hurley, special to the ADRC)

 

From Disheartened to Empowered with the ADRC

By Sue Mroz

Sheboygan resident Gary Brendel, now 63, was down on his luck early in 2014 and, as a result, felt compelled to seek help.

An employee of a temporary staffing agency, working for a local company at that time, he was spending half of his low income to rent a studio apartment in Sheboygan and having difficulty making ends meet. Brendel turned to the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Sheboygan County for assistance, recalling that his late wife had been helped by some of the agency’s resources during her illness.

The ADRC’s Outreach Worker Christine Jeske came to his rescue when Brendel went to consult with her at her office at 650 Forest Ave., Sheboygan Falls. The services of the ADRC are available to all Sheboygan County residents regardless of income.

“My main goal was to find a decent and affordable place to live,” he said. “Chris helped me do that and later became my ‘go-to’ person.”

The first step Jeske took was to visit Brendel at his apartment. “I did not feel the place was an appropriate fit for Gary, based on the cost of rent and some safety issues,” she said. “So, I helped him explore other options, such as low-income housing, with rent based upon income."

She suggested looking at an apartment complex on Sheboygan’s northside, which offers one-bedroom apartments. Brendel, whose late father had resided there, was impressed when he toured the building. Jeske then assisted him in completing the residency application, which was accepted in October 2014.

He has resided there ever since. “This apartment is 100 percent better than my studio apartment was,” Brendel said. “It is an excellent place and has changed my life for the better and helped me expand my friendships.”

One of his new friends he met at his new home, Nancy La Pearle, noted the two met in the hallway of the apartment complex and exchanged greetings regularly.

“He had longer hair when we met,” Nancy said. “Then one day, I noticed he had had a haircut, so I complimented him on it.”

Brendel and La Pearle now spend time together and are grateful for the bond they have formed. La Pearle lauded the ADRC’s resources.

“They have so many services,” she said, adding that she has brought others to the ADRC for services because they are free to all Sheboygan County residents.

Meanwhile, Jeske continued her assistance to Brendel. “I helped him to navigate the system through the maze of resources for which he was eligible, such as Food Share, energy assistance, social security disability and a free government-provided cell phone,” she said.

Her assistance to Brendel went further. He noted he is not computer-literate and needed technological help. The temp agency paid his salary through direct deposit, and he needed to access his records. Jeske saved the day again by helping him do just that.

She is happy at the upturn in Brendel’s situation. “Gary’s quality of life has improved,” she said. “It is refreshing to help people like Gary, who have worked all of their lives — helping them access resources they may be eligible for — especially when they are financially stressed. It puts a smile in my heart and makes my soul feel really good.”

Jeske had a request for Brendel and La Pearle. She invited them as guests on a TV program through the ADRC of Sheboygan County, “Independent Lifestyles,” for which she is an interviewer.

The program airs three times weekly. It appears on Charter TV’s Channels 95 and 990 on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. and on U-Verse, channel 99, on Mondays at 2:30 p.m. Brendel and La Pearle agreed, joking they were about to become stars. The program aired recently.

“We want to keep our clients in their homes,” Jeske said. “I learn new things to share with the public from my client contacts, and hopefully through these programs, viewers can benefit.”

All of these staff members are eager to assist clients with their issues. Phone the ADRC at (920) 467-4100 or 1-(800) 596-1919. Email ADRC@sheboygancounty.com, or find us on Facebook.