New York Woman Named Goodwill 's Graduate of the Year

Goodwill Industries International
Friday, 20 June 2003

It's easy to understand how a history of mental illness, spousal abuse, poverty and discrimination could become insurmountable roadblocks in a person's journey to wellness. Yet, Rose Hunter has found direction in her life and has turned each of those roadblocks into an opportunity to help others find theirs.

For many years, Hunter grappled with bipolar disorder and depression. Bounced around from one foster home to another, Hunter never finished high school, nor found a job that matched her intelligence and drive. Instead, she found herself in an abusive 15-year marriage and reliant on government assistance.

Today, Hunter is a respected peer advocate counselor in the psychiatric ward at Elmhurst Hospital in Elmhurst, NY. There she organizes group discussions, advocates for patient rights and counsels patients who are going through many of the things she went through. She has reached financial independence and no longer relies on government assistance.

"From the very beginning of her work, I noticed that clients and staff responded to Rose in special ways," says Steve Rutter, former Associate Director of Social Work Services/Psychiatry at Elmhurst Hospital. "When I spoke to, or saw Rose, I felt good…good about life, myself and Rose. Her commitment to her own recovery and to alleviating the stigma and suffering of the mentally ill is an inspiration."

Hunter is able to share her transformational journey with others because of the support she found at Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey. Hunter participated in two Goodwill programs for persons with psychiatric disabilities and the GED training program offered at the agency's Family Learning Center. Later, she worked part-time at Elmhurst Hospital as part of Goodwill's Peer Advocate Program, until the hospital decided to hire her full time.

Goodwill Industries International has awarded Rose Hunter its highest mark of distinction -Graduate of the Year. "Rose's story exemplifies how Goodwill Industries can make a difference in people's lives," says George W. Kessinger, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "With Goodwill's help, Rose was able to take control of her life and start on the path to wellness. Now, Rose is helping others to do the same."

For more information, or to contact Goodwill Industries International, see their website at:

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