Andrea Cooke’s world and that of her household shattered on Feb. 19, 2019.
After spending time with Cooke’s household the night time earlier than, her oldest nephew died in a automobile crash on Interstate-16.
Shemar Brooks, her nephew, delivered gasoline to a good friend who was stranded on I-16, and after merging again into visitors, the automobile was struck from behind by a tractor trailer. He and Zhaniesha Burnette, who was within the passenger seat, died on the scene.
“I’ve tried to stay my life ever since then recognizing that we don’t understand how a lot time we have now, and so, making the largest impression, and that has positively made me extremely drained, however I really feel extra fulfilled now than I ever have,” Cooke stated.
Whereas taking a visit to New Orleans in March 2019, Cooke, a mom of eight, utilized for 501(c)(3) standing for C-QUL, a nonprofit group centered on lowering the obstacles that forestall folks from acquiring psychological well being care. The group was authorized in Might 2019.
C-QUL, pronounced “sequel,” is an acronym for “selecting a high quality life,” she stated.
At first, Cooke stated she simply needed to fill a necessity for psychological well being care, however the group has been concerned in a lot bigger initiatives regarding blight, crime and meals entry.
For instance, she has been working with the Napier Heights group, which is in a meals desert, to try to discover options to the shortage of meals out there within the neighborhood. Having restricted meals choices, blight and violent crime impacts psychological well being, she stated.
“We are attempting to deliver consciousness about psychological well being care and making an attempt to finish stigma, but in addition eradicating obstacles and so if we are able to take away virtually each barrier to care, then extra folks will benefit from the service,” she stated.
Like her mom earlier than her
Cooke discovered from her mom, Gloria Smith Cisse, how one can care and become involved in her group, she stated.
When she was round 19 years outdated, her mom was a household connections coordinator in Peach County, and she or he began an initiative the place they’d go to laundromats and pay for folks to scrub garments. The aim was to scale back the quantity of calls the Division of Household & Kids Companies obtained.
“We made some actual headway in Peach County, so I believed it was a terrific concept to deliver to Macon,” Cooke stated.
Cooke utilized for an On The Desk Grant in 2018 via the Neighborhood Basis of Central Georgia to deliver the concept to Macon, and it was the primary On The Desk grant she obtained.
Serving to folks select a high quality life
Cisse based the Southern Center for Choice Theory, a enterprise that gives psychological well being care companies, in 2010, and Cooke turned the Improvement Director for the enterprise.
“My mother instructed me that she was desirous to retire in the future and that I wanted to be ready to step into her function,” Cooke stated. “I’ve at all times been completely content material with advocacy and being behind the scenes.”
However, her mom gave her a nudge to get her Grasp’s diploma in marriage and household remedy and now she is pursuing her doctorate in couple and household remedy.
“My mother is simply the epitome of grace, and she or he’s extremely clever and current. And so, she’s an incredible therapist,” Cooke stated. “She form of put a hearth in underneath my ft about ensuring that we proceed our enterprise.”
By the Southern Middle for Alternative Remedy, they tried to make psychological well being care extra accessible, however they bumped into many obstacles, Cooke stated.
They supplied professional bono companies in order that revenue wouldn’t be a barrier, however then journey would turn into a barrier.
C-QUL was born from these challenges.
“C-QUL actually is about eradicating obstacles for efficient psychological well being care. Entry is a big challenge in Georgia,” Cooke stated.
Georgia ranks 51st in the USA, together with the District of Columbia, in entry to psychological well being care, in line with Psychological Well being America, Inc.
Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller introduced a potential partnership with the Southern Center for Choice Theory on Friday to offer free psychological well being companies to folks in want, however the Fee has to approve the partnership. If authorized, the group would obtain a one-year, $600,000 contract to offer the companies.
The mission of C-QUL
With C-QUL, Cooke needs to vary the way in which folks suppose and discuss psychological sickness, she stated.
“We have now to start to assault points and cease attacking folks. We have now to start to start out reframing the questions that we ask youngsters and the people who find themselves essential to us,” she stated. “In case you situate the prognosis or separate the prognosis from the individual, then they acquire extra company they usually can overcome it.”
For instance, relatively than saying somebody is bipolar, they need to say they skilled a bipolar episode, she stated.
The aim of C-QUL is to extend consciousness about what it means to be mentally properly versus mentally sick whereas additionally reducing the stigma surrounding psychological sickness, she stated.
Nonetheless, a problem for each nonprofit group is funding. C-QUL is grant funded, however folks can attain out via Fb to become involved with the group at www.facebook.com/C-QUL-2818632561511268.
The most important contribution folks could make to the group is being open and prepared to just accept companies when Cooke involves their neighborhoods, she stated.
“My finest hope is that we create protected areas for folks to outwardly have interaction in actions that encourage psychological wellness. I’d hope that the work of C-QUL will create alternatives for folks to speak about psychological sickness, and the way they overcame that psychological sickness,” she stated. “If I have been in an ideal world, the place C-QUL was capable of make the largest impression is that we really eliminated each barrier, and folks started to see, going to a therapist or a counselor in the identical means that they see going to a doctor.”