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Working Wonders & SHAMA House-Mental Health Association

“Working Wonders” teams up with CHW to offer supported employment services to individuals with chronic and persistent mental illness.  We assist with finding and maintaining employment. The following the success story of an individual graduating from our program as a Peer Support Specialist.

“Turn on the life” is a slogan we use to express the positive impact working in our community can have on an individual who has suffered from the stigma of mental illness.

Thank you for your community partnerships!


Catherine Pennington

Director, MHASWO

Honor one another.

Success Story For Heather Hernandez

 Participant: Heather Hernandez

Interviewer: Kim Kanies

Place of Interview: Working Wonders Supported Employment



Before coming to supported employment Heather Hernandez was recovering from methamphetamines and residing at Bay Area First Step. Supported Employment gave Heather the support she needed to find a job. Because of the help she received at Supported Employment Heather was able to climb the corporate ladder and receive employment as a Peer Support Specialist. Hernandez now is financially stable and has a newfound purpose as a result of this employment.  Her family also is supportive of what she has overcome and have benefited by watching Heather develop and self actualize on her journey.

Kanies: Please state your name.

Hernandez: Heather Hernandez.

Kanies: Thank you for doing this Heather.

Hernandez: No problem.

Kanies: How would you describe yourself before coming to Supported Employment?

Hernandez: Before coming to Supported Employment I was living at Bay Area First Step and newly in recovery. I had been addicted to methamphetamine since I was twelve years old. I have six kids and I had my first when I was fourteen, a set of twins, and the rest before I was twenty one. I just got clean and sober as of April 18th 2014.

Kanies: Oh, wow. Was your mental health effecting your ability to work at that time?

Hernandez: Yes. I suffer from anxiety, depression. I was bouncing all over the place and I could not keep my mind straight.

Kanies: Can you tell me what Supported Employment did to help you?

Hernandez: When I first came in to Supported Employment everyone made me feel really welcome. They gave me support with mock interviews and helped me get hooked up with Vocational Rehab. They helped me find jobs. Both the jobs that I have had since I got clean and sober Supported Employment helped me to find.

Kanies: What were those jobs?

Hernandez:  My first one was a housekeeper at Best Western and now I am a certified Peer Specialist at Coos County Mental Health.

Kanies: Awesome. What has changed in your life since going back to work?

Hernandez: Well I am able to support my daughter. I am finically stable, I can get my debts paid off and my self-esteem is great. I have been able to pay off and get my drivers license. That was huge for me.

Kanies: Did working effect your mental health either negatively or positively?

Hernandez: It effects it positively every day. I have so much more self esteem and it gives me a sense of purpose.

Kanies: What is it you like about the job you have now?

Hernandez: I like the fact that I am helping other Peers overcome their everyday struggles, ya know, the same struggles that not long ago I had. I love that.

Kanies: What are your future plans?

Hernandez: Continue working at Coos County Mental Health, I might go back to school I’m not sure yet,  for right now I am good where I am.

Kanies: It feels good to have a direction that isn’t just a job, but a career.

Hernandez: Right. I’m willing to learn anything I can about the best way to do my job.

Kanies: What do your family and friends think about you working?

Hernandez: They are very pleased with what I have overcome and how hard I work. I have even been called a workaholic. It is great to be able to help my children, family or friends when they need it. We don’t have to wonder where the next meal is coming from or if we can pay a bill.

Kanies: I’m sure that your children see you fighting through this and being in this job that you love. It probably changes their outlook on what they think they can do.

Hernandez: My children have had their own struggles in life and we have had our struggles together. I think watching me overcome my issues and seeing me grow every day, I have seen so much growth in them. It is wonderful. We grow together

Kanies: That is important. That is how things change. Is there anything  else you would like to share about working with Supported Employment, or working in general?

Hernandez: Working with Supported Employment was a blessing. The people I worked with are wonderful people. Each one of us have gone through our own things and each one of us has worked hard to overcome our own things and that is what makes it more personable. As for working , it is great. It is a great feeling to know that I have a purpose everyday to get up in the morning and I have people depending on me, it is awesome.


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