James Pace has demonstrated exemplary courage and commitment to overcoming the challenges of his mental illness and making life better for others in his community. Through his recovery and participation at the Independence Center, Jim now works in a permanent, full-time job, and has moved up to a supervisor position. He no longer lives on disability payments, but rather finds great pride in being able to live on his own and even contribute financially to his church and other charitable organizations. He volunteers to speak at various occupational therapy classes at Washington University and is a regular panelist in the Crisis Intervention Training course for local law enforcement officers. Jim has provided valuable insight into mental illness to thousands. He is an inspiration to many.
Earl Cobbins, Sr. has come a long way in his journey of battling substance abuse as well as his mental illness to get where he is today. After receiving help for recovery at Swope Health Services, Earl was able to find a new home and became strong enough to regain the support and commitment of his family and friends. He realized that one of the most critical elements to his recovery was housing. He has since formed a not-for-profit organization called Sober 1 House of Hope. Sober 1 provides not only supported housing but job training, and employment opportunities at Earl’s car dealership and repair shop.
Gary Stevens has been a strong advocate for all people with developmental disabilities for many years. He has been an integral part of numerous boards, commissions, work groups, and committees locally and statewide. During his time as a member of the Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities, Gary helped move forward initiatives that increase self determination; help people reduce or eliminate guardianship; find a home of their own; and live, work and play in the community of their choice.