Feel Good Friday: From homeless to empowered and employed


Chestnut Health Systems partners with Bi-State Metro and St. Clair County Transit District to place peer specialists on commuter trains and on transit system property in Illinois and Missouri.

The specialists engage riders who may need services and connect them to supports in which they are interested and willing to participate. The program focuses on passengers who present as homeless, show symptoms of intoxication, appear to be either under the influence of substances or experiencing mental health symptoms, or are seen panhandling, loitering, or riding the train for excessive lengths of time. Chestnut peer specialists connect riders to crisis response, transportation to services, intake screenings, primary care, substance use or mental health assessments/counseling, medication services, and community-based and peer support services.

Peer specialist Shane Spurgeon recently shared this story:

"A rider we met several months back was unhoused and down on his luck. Staff shared resources and the rider went to the Empowerment Center day after day."

The St. Louis Empowerment Center is a drop-in recovery center for people facing issues related to mental health, substance use, or co-occurring disorders. Consumers can access support and educational groups and develop skills and competencies through exposure to their peers.

"Long story short," said Shane, "rider ended up in a shelter and started getting his life back together. Rider told me one day he applied for a Metro position for employment.

He is now a full-time employee of Metro! I forgot his exact position (just so happy and excited for him I forgot what he said.)"


Feel Good Friday highlights patient, client, and staff success stories. We hope to make our employees feel rewarded and uplifted about their work.

About the Author

Author Chestnut Health Systems

Chestnut offers a comprehensive scope of behavioral health and human services in Illinois and Missouri. Our professional and experienced staff is committed to providing high-quality care and services to the communities we serve. From drug and alcohol addiction treatment facilities (residential and outpatient) to primary care medical homes, to a research institute, Chestnut continuously works to achieve its mission to make a difference and improve quality of life through excellence in service.

If you or someone you love needs help, we can help. It all starts with a phone call. In central Illinois call 888.924.3786 and in southern Illinois/Meto East area call 618.877.4420.