Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – 55 year old Deborah Florian is one of many Fort Wayne residents who finds comfort at the Carriage House. “I have borderline personality disorder, I have major depression recurring and I have PTSD but I come here and I get welcomed and we’re a big family,” said Florian. “I have not cut myself or tried to kill myself or been in the hospital in 10 years. I’m very proud of that and grateful.”
The Carriage House helps people with mental illnesses lead productive lives. Andy Wilson is the executive director. “We do non-traditional psycho-social rehab for adults with serious mental illnesses,” said Wilson. “That’s a mouthful for helping people with bi-polar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia recover and reintegrate into the community.”
Those who receive help at the Carriage House are called members. They work in various capacities around the house as they take steps to lead productive lives. “The basis of the Carriage House is shared meaningful work,” said Wilson. That’s how we get to know each other. That’s how we build confidence and help people’s self-esteem. So we’ll help move people, we’ll help with employment and education and community service.”
Local grants and individuals fund programs at the Carriage House, along with some medicaid funding. It’s biggest private fundraiser is an event that’s become the largest of its kind in the Summit City. It’s called Dancing with the Fort Wayne Stars. “We always have 10 celebrity dancers paired with ten professional dancers in the community,” said Wilson.
This year one of those celebrity dancers is WANE-TV Account Executive Tracie Martin. “This fundraiser is 25-percent of the Carriage House budget,” said Martin. Shen and the other dancers hope their fancy footwork persuades people to buy votes. The celebrity who raises the most money wins a trophy and bragging rights but the Carriage House is the biggest winner. “This event has probably raised two million dollars over 12 years.” said Wilson.