KSU housekeeper hopes to start non-profit organization

Nicole Stempak

Housekeeper Kimberly Maurice vacuums the third floor hallway in Olson Hall. Maurice plans to begin classes next semester and intends to major in human development and family studies so she can eventually start a non-profit organization for people with men

Credit: Dan Kloock

Housekeeper Kimberly Maurice always planned to return to Kent State.

“I’ve been working on coming back to school for years,” she said.

Next semester, Maurice hopes to begin classes and intends to major in human development and family studies. Her goal: to establish a 501(c)(3), a non-profit organization for people with mental illnesses.

Maurice and five other women are in the process of drafting bylaws, filing paperwork and creating a name for the organization. She hopes the organization will be up and running in the next six to nine months.

She wants to create an advocacy chapter to help with “filling in the gaps” by teaching interdependence to people who have come to rely upon the system, she said.

The organization would assist clients with mental health issues that prevent them from doing tasks that case workers are unable to do. This includes cleaning or painting the house, shopping for groceries and going to the doctor.

“We’re not trying to baby anybody,” Maurice said. “We want to encourage people to do things on their own, but sometimes they get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. We want to be able to provide that service for them.”

It was the death of a friend that first brought Maurice to the Portage County Board of Mental Health and Recovery.

“I began researching to try to find why she committed suicide,” she said. “The more I learned, the more I wanted to help.”

While there, she taught classes about mental illnesses. Right now, she is focusing on recruiting students for the Bridges course at the Portage County Wellness Recovery Action Plan. The Bridges educational course is designed to educate people with mental illnesses about their diagnoses, how to communicate with doctors and ways to problem solve.

It can be devastating when a person is diagnosed with a mental illness that is portrayed in a less-than-positive light by the media, Maurice said. The diagnosis can be misleading, considering a mental illness means a chemical imbalance.

A little over two years ago, a friend of her aunt’s suggested working at Kent State. Under the university’s tuition waiver, her aunt’s friend was able to put both of her children through college. Now, Maurice hopes to put herself through college.

Maurice believes a college degree will give the organization credibility and improve relations with other agencies.

She hopes that a college degree will help the organization get what it needs, she said.

“(Other nonprofit agencies) don’t honor real-life education as much as a college education,” she said.

But Maurice knows that life doesn’t always mirror the plan.

“I don’t know where I’m going to be in the next five to six years,” she said, “but I do know that right here and right now I have to do this,” she said.

Contact news correspondent Nicole Stempak at [email protected].