Tennessee Mental Health Consumers’ Association believes in education and support not only geared toward those we serve but to increase the knowledge and skillset of our employees. Two of TMHCA’s staff, Stacey Murphy and Tory Vaughn, recently attended the Relias Learning Conference that was held in Nashville this year to stay updated on current learning styles and trends.
At the 2014 Relias Learning Conference, Stacey and Tory had the pleasure of hearing a motivating story of self-advocacy that played a key role in the recovery from homelessness for Chris Gardner. Mr. Gardner became a familiar name through his book and movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith who was nominated for an Academy Award and the Golden Globe for his portrayal of Chris Gardner in his year long struggle with homelessness while being a single parent.
Here are a few quotes from Mr. Gardner that he quickly gives credit to his mother for instilling in him:
We need a new vision of the American Dream that focuses on empowerment and not entitlements.
You can do or be anything you want to be – not that you can have what you want but YOU can do and be it! Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream and you have to protect it. People will tell you that you can’t do something because they can’t do it. Sometimes that means saying to the man/woman in the mirror that you can do or be anything you want. You CAN perpetuate what happens to you or choose to go another way. Whatever you want to be in this life be the best at it. If you want to be the garbage man, be the best garbage man. If you want to be a banker, be the best banker. Whatever you want to be is your button in life. Find your button and push it.
Mr. Gardner was sitting with his 14 month old son, homeless in his car prior to losing it, and he had this thought, “How did I get here?” He said he then realized, “I drove here! If I drove here, I can drive myself out of here!” He goes on to say that you have to take ownership of your life if you’re ever going to change it.
As a proven strong self-advocate, Mr. Gardner encourages that the greatest honor one can have in their life is for someone to tell you that “I’m trusting you to be my voice, I’m trusting you to be my advocate.”