Fonda White wants to change the world. He is “a fighter, a struggler, a survivor.” He is not to be defined by his mental illness or physical ailments, but by his deep-rooted desire to get better, so that he can go on to help someone else get better. That’s Fonda White.

Years back, at the age of 25, Fonda was someone else entirely, a stranger to himself. A recent college graduate, he was living in the dark, having lost his love for life. He was alone, confused, and taking great measures to end his life when he decided to move back to San Antonio from Wichita Falls where he was working as a minor league professional football player. Coming home only complicated things for Fonda. He isolated from friends and family, stopped taking care of himself and gained an unhealthy amount of weight. But throughout the struggle, Fonda had something that many people experiencing mental illness don’t— the support of his mother who was patient, kind and relentless in her search to help her son gain clarity.

Although Fonda tried many treatment facilities and was in and out of hospitals, nothing seemed to help. It wasn’t until Fonda’s mother learned about CHCS that his wellness journey took off and headed for great things. Fonda’s time with CHCS began with medication management and group sessions where he learned for the first time that he wasn’t alone in his struggle. There were other people just like him who were experiencing similar thoughts and feelings. Fonda then started individual therapy with an integrated care coordinator, where he was able to minimize his symptoms and transition to case management services. It was during that time when Fonda began seeing the Integrated Care Team for primary care services and first discovered his diabetes— something that he is actively working to maintain. “Integrated Care is a huge deal,” said Fonda. “Before, we were traveling all over the city trying to find things, and at CHCS, it’s all right there. CHCS has changed my life, integrated care has changed my life, and the people have really helped. They care. They talk to you. They want to know your goals in life. From the receptionist to the doctors, they want to know how you’re doing, and for that, I’m really thankful,” he added.

In 2017, Fonda’s wellness journey went to even greater heights when he was chosen to serve as a CHCS peer representative at the Putting Care in the Center conference sponsored by the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers— to name a few. As a peer representative, Fonda was asked to share his story at the Los Angeles-based conference, and is currently working on peer programming and other projects that were initiated during that time. “I never thought things like this would happen to me,” said Fonda when asked about the moment he was chosen to serve as peer representative. “My past life was so negative. That moment was like a reward for getting better, and that’s when the passion started to rise a bit. It was what I saw out there, the meetings I went to, the people I met— it changed my whole perspective. That moment is what did it for me. It was a gift,” he added.

Fonda believes that CHCS has changed his life and made him the person he is today. He’s more focused, more ambitious, and now living life to the very fullest. In addition to applying for graduate school, Fonda is committed to being a life-long activist for mental health, and a role model for people living with mental illness. With the help of CHCS, Fonda has managed to turn his pain into happiness (something his grandmother taught him) through hope, trusting the process, and believing in the light at the end of the tunnel.

There is no doubt that Fonda White will go on to do great things in his life, changing the world one person at a time.