Wayne and Mary Ortiz have a deep love story unlike anyone else. This story is seven years old and continues to flourish as a connection full of kindness, support, perseverance, and the steady presence of a Clubhouse that has proven to be life changing.
It all began 12 years ago when Mary and Wayne were at very different stages of their lives compared to where they are today. It wouldn’t be until five years after knowing each other that they would start dating, become husband and wife, and truly understand how much one needed the other. Mary has a history of being in many abusive relationships. Until Wayne came along, abuse was a part of her everyday life and a healthy relationship was foreign to her. This all changed. “It’s almost like a fairy tale. You know you want someone to appreciate you. I found that in him,” Mary expressed. Wayne, before getting the support he needed, often would sit at home and was consumed by depression. He felt lost with his lack of immediate family support. Now, Wayne feels loved by Mary and has this new welcoming and wonderful family that appreciates and cherishes who he is. “I am her mother’s teddy bear,” Wayne noted. They both needed each other; they both needed Point After Club.
Three years ago, after not feeling like she belonged to this program she was a part of, Mary needed something different and explored the possibility of being a member at Point After Club. Wayne accompanied her on the tour of the Club, which sparked his interest as well. Mary without hesitation joined the Club, and a month later, Wayne joined too. From there, both Mary and Wayne started receiving the supports they needed. Point After Club became an important constant in both of their lives, and neither would have it any other way.
The Point After Club has served as a source of joy, familiarity, and growth within Mary and Wayne’s lives both together and separate on their individual paths of recovery. “I don’t go home and be depressed,” stated Wayne. “I know that I am wanted. It’s like a big family,” he added. Mary shared, “I like coming here and not being judged. It’s fun here.”
Wayne enjoys assisting at the Club with any given task. Helping people brings him the most joy in life. He fondly talks about Tom Coppinger, Point After Club’s Program Director, as being a true advocate for every single member at the Club. Before becoming a member, Wayne frequently would stay home and was very unhappy with life. Now, he is an active member at the Club, has many friends, and enjoys all the fun activities like going to a Boston Red Sox game. Wayne otherwise would not have the opportunity to engage in these types of activities if it weren’t for Point After Club and community donations. Mary has found peace at the Club through her art and writing. She thrives in environments that are full of encouragement and positivity, which she has found at Point After Club. “It’s worth becoming a member because it’s one place in society where you don’t get judged for having a mental illness. It’s worth it. I would recommend it to anybody,” Mary advocated.
From providing services that empower people to pursue their employment and housing goals to coordinating community activities and celebrations, the Point After Club is a space where everybody is somebody. Wayne is eager to show people around the Club and explain each unit and its importance to the Club environment. “Mary and Wayne Ortiz are always happy to help out at the Point After Club. It’s wonderful to know that we can count on them during the work ordered day to give a tour of the Club, reconcile banking, sell meal tickets, participate in unit meetings, along with whatever is needed to help the Club run smoothly,” shared Point After Club Clubhouse Counselor Jennifer Lilja.
Mary and Wayne feel equal to every person at the Clubhouse and enjoy pitching in and collaborating, all while forming lasting friendships. These bonds with others include becoming a united front when times get tough and supporting each other. When one of their friends couldn’t afford to pay his way for a highly anticipated upcoming activity, Mary and Wayne agreed to cover his way so he didn’t have to miss out. When a fellow member recently went on a trip to Vermont, she happily brought Mary and Wayne back some of their favorite cheeses to enjoy. These types of friendships are both genuine and enduring.
Upon reflection on just how much Point After Club has changed their lives, Mary and Wayne express all the happiness the Club has brought them. Wayne recently finished his Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) program as well as engaging in NAMI’s Peer-to-Peer course. “I learned a lot about myself,” he shared. Mary continues to work on her self-esteem, motivation, and understanding the aspect of letting go of things you cannot control. As a couple, both hope to be in a new apartment in their future. Wayne’s hopes and desires for his relationship are to remain together and continue to do supportive things for one another. Mary hopes Wayne will remain in her life through the test of time. “I’ve had people walk out on me because I have a mental illness, and he stays by my side and puts up with it, and I appreciate that,” she voiced.
With such a thriving marriage and a supportive daily presence of the Club, Mary and Wayne hope their story inspires others to understand the power of their voice and story. They want people to understand the potential of gaining such a sincere sense of belonging at a Clubhouse and believe everyone deserves to experience such a special feeling. “I want to let someone know it is okay to have a mental illness. It doesn’t make you a bad person, you are just a person with an illness,” Mary stated.