IRIS House helps many
By Justin Crouch
People who have a chronic mental illness are finding help at IRIS House in Windsor.
IRIS Residential Inns and Services is a supportive home for persons with persistent mental illness that emphasizes the physical and mental requirements of its residents.
Anne Ryan, executive director of IRIS House, organizes events and tends to the inn’s requirements. She mentioned the various types of work she does there.
“I have four people that are in sheltered workshop jobs. One man had a job in the summer but we have an in-house work program where they can help with chores,” said Ryan.
IRIS House has helped many residents to feel welcomed and safe.
They are undergoing the process of revising their data from their first 10 years of operation and looking at the difference in days spent in hospital care. Ryan noted that prior to the residents’ coming to the house, they spent almost 19,000 days in total at hospital. “After living here, there have been only 850,” said Ryan.
They have had many events at the Caboto Club and the club continues to support IRIS House.
“They have 92 charities trying to get into Caboto nights and they selected us again,” said Ryan. This July the house will be hosting a charity pasta night.
Jeff Surprenant works at IRIS House and attends to the needs of the residents.
“They have a little red book that during the day, if anybody has a problem with anything in their room, they’ll write it down in the book and that’s the maintenance I’ll do,” said Surprenant.
Surprenant said he is very comfortable with the environment at the inn.
“One of the reasons I took this job was because of the family atmosphere here. It was actually way beyond my expectations on how much I’d like it here,” said Surprenant.
Traci Wilson is an activity director at IRIS House who helps develop the well-being of the residents.
“My job is really 80 per cent motivating people to engage in their lives, take risks, feel safe and enjoy…we’re all like parents. We all play these integrated roles,” said Wilson.
Wilson said sometimes it is not easy to connect with residents. Some are easy to open up to, but for others, they may never truly open up to anything.
Vince Tipitone, a resident at the Inn for seven years, said he considers himself an artist wannabe.
“At one time all my friends were artists and I think a true artist has a portfolio, has an idea, then goes out and does it,” said Tipitone.
Tipitone said he enjoys the group activities. He was in the basement working on a butterfly papercraft.
“I had in my mind right from the beginning that I was going to make the best one,” said Tipitone.
Tipitone said he has connected with many people and established a romantic four-year relationship with one of the other residents.
“She came here and we just started hanging out and eventually we just started dating. We’ve been together for about three, going on four now, four years,” said Tipitone.
IRIS’ welcoming environment and frequent activities have kept its residents safe and entertained. IRIS House has become a real home for the people who live there.
With 65 residents, the establishment continues to thrive and motivate all those who take part in it.
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