Real Chat with Samuel Gelman


Sam is an avid reader and a big fan of Philadelphia sports. He is a member of Cornerstone Clubhouse and sits on their advisory board. Sam is passionate about advocacy and does outreach for transitional employment opportunities as well as political and social outreach.

PROJECT 375: You started working again this summer. How has this affected your well-being?

SAMUEL GELMAN: Working again and having my own money is a self- esteem raiser for me. It was very hard being dependent on my mom, government services, and charity organizations to make it through the first six months of my new living arrangements. It was great being able to treat my mom to lunch for her birthday. I’m also old enough to still like to read print newspapers, and being able to buy some is a mental health lifter. Finally, writing a check for my rent with my own money is a big weight off my mind.

PROJECT 375: What is your favorite book?

SAMUEL GELMAN: That is a very hard question for me. I am an avid Sci-Fi & Fantasy reader. David Gemmell’s Legend (fantasy), which started out his Drenai saga, and David Weber’s On Basilisk Station (Sci-Fi), which was the first book of the Honor Harrington series, would cover my two loves. ūüôā

PROJECT 375: What does self-advocacy mean to you and why is it so important?

SAMUEL GELMAN: Self-advocacy¬†means speaking up for myself. I can¬†make¬†my own phone calls, write¬†my own e-mails, send¬†my own¬†letters, and¬†walk in the door of¬†the place I need help from and ask¬†for it. As for why self-advocacy is so important, many, if not all, of the people and¬†organizations I have dealt with are understaffed, underfunded, undertrained, or simply not willing to help with what I have needed. I have gotten multiple¬†thank you’s¬† and felt better about sticking up for myself.

PROJECT 375: You seem very close to your mom, how has your relationship with her helped you on this journey?

SAMUEL GELMAN: I needed that one family member that would just be there for me. Once or twice a month, I have the chance to spend time at her place, away from living in a transitional mental health project. This gives me a chance to spend some normal time with her away from my day-to-day issues. She has also helped me out with small sums of money, which I have then paid her back when I could. My mom has come to visit me or talked to me a lot in all three of my hospitalizations. I also want to be frank and say that it has not been easy for either of us. It has been a learning experience with some ups and downs.

PROJECT 375: What does a perfect day look like to you?

SAMUEL GELMAN:¬†It starts with a restful night’s sleep, then an early start to the day with nice, comfortable weather. I like a long walk, with some downtime to eat and read the paper or a book, or spending time at the library, which I love to haunt. Talking to my mom on the phone and spending time chatting with the new friends I have made at my transitional house helps. Two other possible awesome days would be spending the whole day with my mom, driving into the country and eating lunch and dinner with her,¬†or¬†spending the day at Cornerstone Clubhouse helping out and advocating for them.

PROJECT 375: Do you have one daily ritual you cannot live without?

SAMUEL GELMAN: I am something of a Facebook addict. I love waking up and checking in to see what’s going on.

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