Dustin Feinberg is the 2017 JOIN Intern for Kadima. Dustin lives in Detroit where he is currently attending Wayne State University as a graduate student in the school of social work.
Written by: Dustin Feinberg
As I near the end of my time as a JOIN intern, I begin to do what is natural in moments like this: reflect upon my experiences and the lessons I learned that I’ll carry with me. Mental illness has been a very important issue to me for a long time. Individuals struggling with mental illness are one of the most vulnerable populations in the country.
I remember when I was sitting in the lobby of Kadima, while waiting for my soon-to-be supervisor to call me back for an interview, that there were a couple of clients sitting there as well. They began to strike up conversation with me, and I proceeded to engage with them in dialogue. When I was called back for my interview, one of the first things Michelle Malamis (my now supervisor) said was that she noticed how easily I was holding a conversation with clients. This sounded to me like an observation of the norm, but the reality is that many people fear those who have been diagnosed with mental illness. When I’m reminded of this reality, I then ask myself this: why is it so easy for me to talk with the clients at Kadima? The truth is there is not much difference between myself and someone diagnosed with a mental illness. Odds are, this applies to most everyone, but unfortunately many people have a hard time admitting this.
I’ve had moments in which my stability has been jeopardized due to life being such as it is; it is because of the support I’ve received, from both professional and personal resources, that I continue to overcome the challenges that life presents to me.
The fear of mental illness causes people to be afraid to reach out for help, and the stigma of mental illness is really a symptom of a societal illness that we all suffer from at some level. Kadima is dedicated to ending the stigma of mental illness.
I was familiar with Kadima, partly because my mom’s business, Feinberg Consulting, exposed me to a variety of service providers throughout the community. One thing that really stuck out to me during my time here is the fact that Kadima is so multi-faceted in terms of the services provided. I was eager to learn more about how a non-profit agency operates in the background in order for the day-to-day activities to take place. Kadima offered an opportunity to work with friendly and supportive staff to learn more about policies and programs, while also giving me the opportunity to have direct contact with the individuals for which the policies and programs are designed to help. One of the most refreshing aspects about Kadima is the effort the agency as a whole makes in collaborating with other agencies, not for the sake of money, but for the sake of caring for the clients. My time here at Kadima reminds me of the profound importance of places like this agency, and the continued efforts that need to be made (both large and small), in order to ensure those with mental illness are granted their natural-born right to a state of dignity and respect.
Kadima will always have a special place in my heart. So whether I find myself near or far, I will always remain connected and involved toward serving those that remain vulnerable.