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Ellen BollingerEllen Bollinger
Ellen Bollinger, supportive housing specialist, Wyandot Center, was named provider of the year by NAMI Kansas, an agency providing education, support and advocacy for people living with mental illness, their families and friends.
Bollinger was nominated for the award by a consumer of Wyandot Center, Wyandotte County’s designated community mental health center.
As part of her role, Bollinger works to help Wyandot Center consumers who live in a Kansas City, Kan., Housing Authority’s downtown high rise succeed at remaining housed. When she took her position as supportive housing specialist in 2010, the center had 21 consumers living at the high rise; many had difficulty keeping their apartments. Today, 28 consumers live there, and not one has been evicted.
Bollinger has worked with the adult consumers to build a community at the high rise through several different initiatives, among them:
- She helped the consumers start an in-house Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
- She established a weekly Breakfast Club for residents, inviting speakers to tackle subjects as wide-ranging as tornado preparation and the Center’s vocational services.
- She serves as a liaison between consumers and the Housing Authority, in the process helping to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
- She helps consumers make and keep medical appointments; facilitates meetings with their case managers; and teaches cooking, cleaning and self-care skills.
Darla Belflower, service coordinator of the Supportive Housing Team, said Bollinger’s strong work ethic and self-motivation have not only benefited the center’s consumers, but have helped the Housing Authority avoid the expense of preparing apartments for other residents in the wake of evictions. At Wyandot, it’s the community of people Bollinger serves that motivates her.
“It’s nice to work for an agency where the consumers are actively empowered and comfortable with talking about what they want -- what they like, what they don’t like, and getting the services they need,” Bollinger said.
- Story by Therese Horvat, Wyandot Inc. communications director