How to USe
Obstacles as Stepping Stones
Richard Rierson sat down with Teresa Lovelady, President and CEO of HealthCore Clinic and she spoke on how she made a name for herself and overcame difficult circumstances.
With a wealth of experience as a patient and professional in the mental health field, Teresa joined HealthCore Clinic (formerly Center for Health and Wellness), an organization in Wichita, KS that is close to her heart, as President and CEO in March 2011. Teresa, herself, has been a medical patient at the Center since 2003 while also serving as a consumer board member since May 2009.
Throughout her career, Teresa has also served as the Vice President of Prevention and Advocacy at the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas while also serving on a variety of other task forces, coalitions, and committees to help enrich her community and empower those within it.
Teresa spoke candidly about a variety of topics including what it was like growing up in the south side of Chicago and the challenges that environment presented. Teresa also talks about what kept her going as a child, challenges she faces in her industry, and much more.
Keeping Up Motivation as an Adolescent
Lovelady was essentially a homeless child with a mother and father who were pretty much unavailable. She spent her time trying to take care of her two younger brothers and their peers on the south side of Chicago in the 90s. The main thing that kept Lovelady going were the influential teachers in her life.
Teresa found her first mentor in elementary school. Teresa had a speech impediment and her special education teacher was the first one to show her that a wealth of life existed outside of her neighborhood. “I would meet her a couple of blocks away from the projects and she would take me to the most phenomenal places outside of my ghetto. She took me to the botanical gardens in Chicago, she took me to the art museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, so it was exposure.” says Lovelady. “She showed me the other side and she gave me hope. She told me to never stop believing in myself. From that point on, I felt like I had teachers, who came into my life at different points, that saw the other side or saw potential within me and told me to never give up on myself.”
Teresa credits one specific teacher for planting an important seed by saying, “You’re better than what’s around you.”
Teresa says there are two ways to deal with trauma, you can either find growth from it or internalize it. Teresa says, “ You can internalize it, but once you internalize it, you become that statistic. Or you can take the power of what you have gone through and use it to empower and help others.”
Reconciling with Survivor’s Guilt
Teresa has been through the school of hard knocks, she says it herself, and lost a lot of smart, talented, and incredible people along the way. She speaks about a friend (Cedric) who had a dream of getting out of the neighborhood and opening a series of laundromats. Cedric was killed before he got a chance to achieve this dream. When asked how she feels, as a success story, about these types of events Lovelady says...
"You almost have to pick up the flag. You pick that up and you say, 'I'm going to make it for you because I know what was in your heart. I know what you wanted to do. I know we're going to get out of here and if one of us gets out, we all get out.' Then we get to pay it forward."
This mentality has helped Teresa continue to persevere and find success, she ‘picked up the flag’ that those she lost left behind.
Teresa has met many leaders ones from her personal and academic/professional experiences, but she says the difference between the two is passion. The people she met as an adolescent were willing to pick up that flag after you failed, while professionals and academics were more focused on outdoing each other and would get satisfaction when their peers failed.
Overcoming the Odds
It is apparent that Teresa has lived a lot of life and has managed to achieve success even though the odds were stacked up against her, but she isn’t done yet.
As the current President and CEO of Healthcore Clinic, a community health center that provides health services to individuals regardless of their ability to pay.
Lovelady says, “A lot of people realize how different their life would be without health insurance. So, when I look back and think of myself as a kid without access to the health services that we needed, I would have loved to have gone to a community health center and said, ‘I'm hungry, I'm hurting, I need help,’ but those opportunities didn't present themselves as a child. So, when I think about the health center movement across the United States now, it's an opportunity where people can go and be heard and get the help and the attention you need in an environment that provides quality care and an environment that believes that the patient deserves.”
Teresa also tells us that we need a system that can control the outrageous costs of medical treatment across the board. She will continue to advocate for medicaid expansion and maintaining mental health facilities across the country. Her mission is to bring healthcare to those who were like her and all individuals so that they can lead healthy and happy lives while finding their own path to success.
She feels so strongly about this issue because she formerly received welfare benefits, medicaid, and food stamps to survive. She then went to college on a Pell Grant. Utilizing these resources helped her build a better life for herself, “I think about that progression and I am now a tax-paying citizen. I pay my fair share. I am not on the other side of it anymore and no one wants to be on that other side.”
We learn from Teresa that what motivates us to be successful might differ, but if we approach life in a compassionate way and never give up no matter how bad it gets, things can change.