"I'm Alive and That's a Good Thing"
When you see Larry Adams in our lobby, you may not notice the wheelchair he needs to sit in or be aware of all the serious health issues with which he has dealt, but you will definitely be struck by the twinkle in his eyes, his bright smile and the hearty welcome to patients, staff and guests as they enter our lobby.
Ask him how he is and he’ll resound with a cheerful, “I’m alive and that‘s a good thing!”
Larry has been a cherished part of our BHCHP family for well over two decades. Early on as a patient in our clinics and respite program, we appreciated his thoughtfulness, wisdom and leadership skills. He shared his experiences on the streets and we marveled at his resiliency, and we knew he was special. In 1996 when we formed our first Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), a collaboration of current and former patients who use their experience to inform us about the quality and scope of our care, we looked to Larry for his leadership. With his incredible vision, Larry helped create the template for CABs in other programs caring for individuals experiencing homelessness across the country. This led him to being elected to the National Health Care for the Homeless Program’s Consumer Advisory Network. Today, he is the lone surviving member from that original BHCHP CAB cohort.
Larry’s genuine dedication to helping others, along with his deep involvement and leadership of the CAB, led him to be elected in 2006 to BHCHP’s Board of Directors where his experience and ideas are sought after and appreciated by the business and medical leaders who also serve on our Board.
Larry’s impact on our program reached another milestone once he secured housing. After his initial elation with having a stable and warm home, Larry felt an increasing sense of depression and isolation. He realized that being housed was just the beginning of his journey to wellness -- he needed to address his mental health issues and grapple with his increasing loneliness. He knew others in similar circumstances felt the same way and that he could help them by being a voice. So he became a staunch advocate for newly housed individuals, recognizing the complexities that can accompany being lonely and overwhelmed in a completely new and unfamiliar living situation. Larry worked with our staff and volunteers to create a video that addresses the issues faced by newly-housed patients and provides suggestions for both patients and staff to find the support they need…and it has been widely shared with Health Care for the Homeless programs around the country. (You can view Larry’s video here.)
“Everybody thinks it’s over when you get housed,” Larry says, “No, that’s where new problems can begin. I know.” Larry knew where to look for help, here at BHCHP. His advocacy around our newly housed patients resulted in BHCHP opening a day program in partnership with Bay Cove where folks can gather and further create a community.
When you need help, “hold out your hand and ask.” Larry continues “Guess what? Someone will grab it.”
Larry’s kind and grateful heart always makes room for people who are different than he, opening his arms to help our immigrant and our trans* patients. And his remarkable efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2013, at a special pregame ceremony, Larry was recognized as "Patriots Difference Maker of the Week” and New England Patriots players presented him an honorary medal and autographed football to thank him for his continued commitment to giving back.
“I’ve been so blown away by Larry,” says BHCHP CEO Barry Bock, who has known Larry for over 20 years. “Larry, like so many in our patient community, has had a hard year with his health. Even in a very frail health state, he wants to give back and is determined to make it to CAB and BHCHP Board of Director meetings to continue to advocate for programs and policies to improve our patient experience. He selflessly never loses sight of the bigger picture of ensuring that patients leave BHCHP healthier and more hopeful than when they arrived.”
When you give to BHCHP this holiday season, you’re supporting members of our patient community like Larry Adams: people who care deeply about others and have hearts full of gratitude.