Meet Ronald

Living in an adult care home, Ronald had a lot of time on his hands, but little to do. With access to few art supplies other than notebook paper, colored pencils and crayons, he took to drawing. He drew farm scenes he remembered from his youth in the mountains of Virginia. He drew tractors, farmers, horses, black bears and crops arranged in neat rows.

Today, some of those same colorful sketches hang on the wall of Ronald’s own Asheville apartment alongside old family photos, acoustic guitars and other instruments. Now 62, Ronald entered the Transitions to Community Living Initiative (TCLI) in 2015. The program helps adults with serious mental illness move out of facilities and live more independently.

In his younger years, Ronald farmed, held various jobs and played at bluegrass festivals. Following a divorce and the death of his mother, he moved to Buncombe County. There, his depression and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder grew severe, culminating in a suicide attempt and hospital stay. Ronald returned home to find that most of his belongings had been stolen. With nowhere to live, he entered the adult care home.

A year later, Ronald began rebuilding his life through TCLI. Vaya staff helped him find home furnishings and kitchenware, even a battery for his car. He and his care team work together to make sure he has the services and supports he needs when he needs them. Although he misses country life, Ronald appreciates the mountains and the French Broad River, where he fishes for smallmouth bass. He relies on his faith to see him through the hard times.

“I never gave up hope,” he said. “I knew I wouldn’t be there forever.”

He also has a message for adults living in facilities who are capable of living on their own: “Just never give up,” he said. “Know that you can depend on people for help. And don’t shy away from it.”