In 2020, we shared the story of Michael McCollum, a UnitedHealthcare Community Plan member in the Houston area. Mr. McCollum was experiencing severe behavioral and physical health challenges, in addition to homelessness, when he met Claudia, a Peer Support Specialist from UnitedHealthcare. Claudia worked with Mr. McCollum to find him a safe, stable home, and develop a roadmap for his continued recovery – resulting in Mr. McCollum receiving an ‘Overcomer of the Year’ award.
Over the past 2 years, Mr. McCollum remained engaged in his recovery and continues to be successful. His mental health and outlook on life remain positive, and his speech and mobility have improved, enabling him to become more active in his own community. As a way of paying his success forward he started collecting donations of blankets for the homeless and began looking into how to become a peer support specialist, with a goal of helping others find hope, like Claudia did for him.
He continues to share his pride in the award that he received and has always hoped to get a picture of he and Claudia in front of it; with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the ability to connect face to face, he hadn’t been able to do so. Recently, however – Claudia arranged to make that hope a reality and visited Mr. McCollum at his apartment. In addition to the photo, Claudia surprised Mr. McCollum by telling him that his training to become a peer support specialist would be fully sponsored – enabling him to enroll in courses and continue pursuing his goal.