My name is Peter Rossmeissl and I’ve been a member of Yahara House, a community-based clubhouse for nearly six years now. When I joined the Yahara House, I was fifteen years out of a PhD program in microbiology at UW-Madison. I was under a Chapter 51 commitment, had just left the Mendota State Hospital and was now facing homelessness with no benefits or other income. Just when I felt like all hope was lost, Yahara House stepped in and they helped me find a part time job and figure out how to get my disability benefits. Most importantly, they provided me with a community and restored my dignity and self-worth.
Today, I work as a certified peer specialist for PROPs, Journey’s First Episode Psychosis program. PROPs has allowed me to use my experience gained from working with my colleagues at Yahara House to help young people experiencing their first psychotic break. One of my favorite things about peer to peer relationships is that everyone is a student and everyone a teacher. For the first time in twenty-one years of living with psychosis I feel like there is a purpose for my experience. I feel as though my potential hasn’t been wasted, and in fact that I am accomplishing more helping people like me than I ever could have accomplished as a microbiologist. I have been able to do all of this in large part because of my relationship with Yahara House.
I testified at the September 26 budget hearing because I want to make sure that I as well as others living with mental health issues will be able to continue to receive Yahara House services for years to come. Although Yahara House is now a CCS provider and is receiving funding from the State through this program, we still need help and support from the county. Presently, we only serve people on medical assistance. That means that if I came to Yahara House in the same place I was in six years ago today I wouldn’t be able to receive services. The county's support will allow us to continue our work with current members, and expand our services to those without medical assistance. Our voices are our strongest asset to ensure the County maintains its current commitment to Yahara House. Thank you.