Growing up, Richard Saldane was a quiet person. His childhood was a mix of playing sports with siblings and friends. Mostly, he was basically trying to fit in with his peers.

School was never easy. High school became more challenging and eventually he chose to drop out. This was both good and bad for Richard. He was relieved that he didn’t have to deal with things and people that caused him angst, but he missed his friends. Even though he was encouraged to go back to school and complete his GED, it wasn’t the right time or fit for him. He tried some computer classes, but he encountered the same problems and became more reclusive.

Coming from a single parent family, Richard didn’t want to be any more of a burden than necessary at home, yet as time went on he became more and more isolated. Eventually he was hospitalized.

Slowly but surely, his life began to get back on track. When he was discharged Richard went to one of Copa Health’s group homes, known as a Lighthouse home.

The Lighthouse program is designed to give members a feeling of security in their living environment. They know that even if they have a setback and need to be re-hospitalized, they will not lose their home.

This unique living environment, staffed 24/7 with behavioral health techs, promotes individual growth and assists members in finding their way back from a world of darkness. Richard began working with Copa Health’s Employment Related Services (ERS) program and soon he was earning money for the first time in his life.

Today, Richard is building a great work history. He began training at the ERS program in Mesa and transitioned to one of two supported employment positions in the community, the first at Leisure World. His second position was at Ike’s Love & Sandwiches, where he blossomed and became more social than ever. No longer requiring supported employment, Richard is now a valued Taco Bell employee who is rethinking his educational goals.

“The first Christmas after I began earning money, my counselor, Chris Antonio, and I went shopping for my entire family.” Richard continued, “It was the first time I was ever able to give back to my loved ones. It was the most wonderful feeling ever!”

Richard has been good to himself as well. Now that he has earned more income he has fulfilled some longtime dreams – drums and an Xbox.