“It is my honor today to recognize Laura Perkinson for her remarkable recovery story, her deep spirituality, and her desire to make the world a better place. I have had the pleasure of knowing Laura for most of my 20 years at Elm Brook Place and previous clubs.
"Laura experienced her first hospitalization at McLean when she was only 14. Despite her struggles with symptoms and treatments, Laura's true character and determination shone through even as a teenager and young adult. Her mother recalls her always being good-natured and helpful since childhood. She attended the Germaine Lawrence High School where she won several academic awards. Although her illness and hospitalizations made it difficult to stay in school consistently, she was able to earn her GED.
"When she finished school, Laura got a job in a daycare center. She loved working with children and thrived at her job until she was struck with a crippling depression that left her unable to function. After a brief stay with a caring couple from her church who took her in, she was hospitalized, during which time she was eventually linked into DMH services. She was placed in a group home in Acton. She worked hard to get better with the help of her therapist and other supporters, and was able to get her own apartment eventually.
"Laura is a deeply spiritual person who is empathetic towards others, not only from her own experiences of recovery, but her genuine desire to ease the suffering of others and make the world a better place. Laura likes to read things like: Martin Luther King's "Maladjustment" speech, which celebrates the human choice to not adjust oneself to injustice and prejudice; Thoreau's The Road Less Traveled and The Sun, My Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh.
"Laura is active in the Unitarian Church and serves on their Social Justice Committee. As part of her work, she volunteers with other church members at a homeless shelter in Lowell to serve dinner to guests. She is also passionate about social issues such as educational equality.
"Laura has taken part in and shared her recovery story as part of several NAMI Family to Family trainings that help to educate and support family members of loved ones with mental illness.
"Recently, Laura returned to Elm Brook Place after a long absence and now faithfully volunteers in our Culinary Unit or wherever else she is needed to help out. She also plays a leadership role with her peers through encouraging others to join her in meaningful work, teaching crafts, and befriending those who are struggling in their recovery.
"Laura currently lives a short distance away from her Mom and helps her out by driving her to medical appointments, cleaning the house and other doing other things as needed.
"Laura is also a talented quilter, devoted daughter, loving sister and doting auntie to her niece Sophie.
"For all that you are and all that you do, you are our hero Laura."