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Beth, who has cerebral palsy and has struggled with depression for more than 20 years, bonds with her service dog, Somer. While Somer's official "job" is to help Beth walk and assist her if she falls, she also helps Beth keep her spirits up and overcome her depression.
"When I'm depressed or stressed, the dog shuts down too. So I have to keep myself in check and keep my spirits up for Somer. If something happened to me and I had to go into the hospital, what would happen to my dog? So I have to stay grounded."

Beth
Beth was 20 years old when she entered Community Hope following hospitalizations for depression and years of struggling to fit in with the stigmas of physical, mental and learning disabilities. Beth's family was desperate for a program that would allow her to leave the hospital and get the help she needed.

Two decades later, she has come further than she imagined! She earned an A.A. degree in 2002, and completed her B.A. degree in 2008. After an internship at the Historic Speedwell Museum in Morristown, where she still volunteers, Beth now assists others in finding jobs through Morris County's one stop employment center.

She has progressed in her recovery to our independent living program, sharing a home with two roommates since 1998. "My home is here," she told her parents when they were planning to retire and move out of state ten years ago. "If I had not been in Community Hope, I would have been forced to relocate. Now, my parents have their life and I have mine and that is as it should be."

Inspired by the story of a wounded Post 9/11 soldier whose recovery was aided by a service dog, Beth recently underwent an intensive training course to acquire her new service dog, nicknamed Somer for Somerset. "She assists me with balance and helps me walk," said Beth as Somer slept at her feet. "She knows over 80 commands and has been able to help me up when I have fallen." Her golden retriever helps her navigate her way to her volunteer jobs and the employment center, where she sleeps under the desk while Beth works.

Beth attributes Somer with urging her to work harder to overcome her struggle with depression. "When I'm depressed or stressed, the dog shuts down too. So I have to keep myself in check and keep my spirits up for Somer. If something happened to me and I had to go into the hospital, what would happen to my dog? So I have to stay grounded."

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