Francie Broderick, former PfP Executive Director, worked as a case manager for three years in the old St. Louis State Hospital. She left that position in 1975 to become the first full time employee of Places for People, the first community based psychiatric rehabilitation center in Missouri.
Broderick led the agency in the development of the largest independent living program for people with serious and persistent mental illness in Missouri. With Broderick's direction, Places for People has become a recognized leader in affordable housing and outreach to people who are homeless, living with mental illness, and diagnosed with multiple disorders including addiction and HIV/AIDS. As an outspoken advocate for people living with mental illness, she continues to keep Places for People focused on helping people move forward in their recovery.
If I have achieved anything it has obviously been with the help and support of many, many people. As we have grown and the mental health system has grown over the years, it has no longer been a one person show.
Years ago I heard this metaphor that made a lot of sense to me. When thousands of people are drowning, you can respond in different ways. You can sit by the side of the river and count the bodies as they go by. You can dive in and rescue as many people as you can or you can go upstream and stop the guy who is throwing them off the bridge.
Now we need people who count the bodies so we can build our case. And we absolutely need to jump in and pull out as many people as we can (which is what we do every day) but I also think you absolutely must go upstream and stop the guy(s) pitching people off the bridge. And that means system change. It means mental health parity. It means health care as a human right. It means more state and public funding for comprehensive mental health and addiction services. It means more affordable housing. Otherwise we just keep pulling the bodies out and so many get by us that we can’t reach.
With my retirement nearing, I want to assure you that this organization, its mission, and our clients mean the world to me, and I would never, ever willingly leave unless I knew beyond a doubt that the agency leadership shared the same vision and belief in the worth and potential of every human being, the vision that has guided us all these years.
In closing, I want to thank you for believing in our mission and the people we serve, people who otherwise might have been left behind.
Places for People, Inc. 4130 Lindell BoulevardSt. Louis, MO 63108 Tel: 314.535.5600Get directions to our Recovery Center Campus