Youth in Cornerstone program celebrate their successes!

December 1st, 2020
Southwest Solutions’ Cornerstone program held its 6th annual Celebration of Accomplishments via Zoom

Though she was at work, Melisa Cardoso took the time to tune into the recent Celebration of Accomplishments event held by our Cornerstone youth program. Melisa is a participant in program, and her certificate of accomplishment recognized her for “starting a part-time job, improving grades, and being an awesome help to family.”

Melisa Cardoso (selfie she provided)

Melisa is 17 and a junior at Cesar Chavez High School. She started working 20 hours a week at a factory in southwest Detroit in August. Melisa’s mom works there full-time, and Melisa wants to help the family make ends meet during the Covid crisis. Because of the crisis, her schooling is virtual, and after the school-day ends, she starts her shift.

“My mom and dad emphasize that my education is most important, and I’m saving up for college, too,” Melisa said. “When I enter college, I will be the first in my extended family to go. I want to be a doctor or nurse because my younger brothers have severe asthma. It was scary to see them struggle to breathe, and I want to be able to help people with their health problems.”

Melisa credits Cornerstone for helping her to define, focus upon, and plan out her goals going forward. Cornerstone helps young people who are in systems of care learn the life skills they need to be successful and independent as they transition to adulthood. The program currently serves about 50 youth. The recent Celebration event was the 6th annual one, and the first time it was held virtually.

Melisa started counseling at Southwest Solutions as a child to help her with some learning and emotional difficulties. Her counselor was Melodi Litkouhi, who now is the Program Manager for Cornerstone. Melisa’s counselor is now Emma Urbain, who also assists with Cornerstone.

As a teenager, Melisa experienced depression. “Counseling helped me develop the coping skills I use to be aware of symptoms and to manage them effectively,” Melisa said. “Because my counselors and Cornerstone have helped me so much, I didn’t want to miss the Celebration, even if I was at work!”

In addition to Melisa, 16 other Cornerstone participants RSVP’d to the event:

  • Marcus Dinkins, recognized for “joining Cornerstone, working a part-time job, improving school attendance, and working hard toward goals”
  • Xavier Goines, recognized for “managing multiple responsibilities at once such as sports, work, school, college applications and self-care; for successfully completing physical therapy, and for seeking out mental health support during this time”
  • Joseph Graham-Ayers, recognized for “successfully transitioning to new therapist, advocating for your needs, recognizing your resilience, recognizing growth, graduating from Cornerstone, wanting to be healthy in body and mind, recognizing progress in goals, and recognizing your hard work”
  • Sarai Guevara, recognized for “graduating High School, presenting story at ACMH mental health conference, working toward independence, self-taught animation skills, and reaching over 430 subscribers on YouTube”
  • Alexander Ibarra-Lopez, recognized for “joining Cornerstone, obtaining driver’s license, participating in Grow Detroit Young Talent, significantly improving grades, and working hard toward goals”
  • Jaquelin Medina, recognized “for graduating high school, being accepted into HFCC, and re-engaging in therapy”
  • Amarangie Soto Ramirez, recognized for “working part-time while finishing high school, for starting therapy and consistently taking the medicine, for learning some Arabic, and for moving into a new home”
  • Michael Ray, recognized for “joining Cornerstone, quickly completing online courses for school, and being a great big brother”
  • Zayden Robinson, recognized for “being resilient, a great self-advocate, obtaining employment, successfully transitioning to a new therapist, recognizing self-growth, continuously wanting to become healthier, communicating needs appropriately, and improving your art skills”
  • Ziomara Rosado, recognized for “actively participating in Cornerstone, improving art and baking skills, and joining a DnD group with friends”
  • Michelle Orozco Sanchez, recognized for “working part-time with step-dad while in school, for being 4+ months sober, for seeking out mental health support, for putting themselves out there more, and for feeling healthier and more confident”
  • Antanasia Shaw, recognized for “graduating High School, being accepted into nursing program, and starting school at HFCC”
  • Timothy Wallace, recognized for “balancing multiple jobs while finishing high school, for always looking out for his family, for taking care of his little brother, and for starting therapy for the first time”
  • Lavon Weston, recognized for “graduating high school, starting spiritual journey, obtaining part-time employment, starting an herb garden, and beginning to make music”
  • Paige Williams, recognized for “joining Cornerstone, attending first Cornerstone group, working hard in therapy, and being an awesome auntie and sister”
  • Eddie Zarate, recognized for “attending first Cornerstone group, improving communication with family, and becoming a dog parent”

“Our annual Celebration of Accomplishments is a time to celebrate all of our Cornerstone clients’ accomplishments, no matter how big or how small,” said Melodi Litkouhi, Cornerstone Program Manager. “This year has brought many unexpected challenges due to Covid, but the Celebration is important, and we adapted to circumstances to make it virtual this time. We dropped off gift bags to attendees that day, and via Zoom, played virtual games, trivia, and raffles, and heard from a wonderful guest speaker, Professor Dr. David Córdova of the University of Michigan. It was a really nice time and the clients and families enjoyed it.”

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