Success Stories

Personal Stories of Recovery


Jane Davidson - A Fresh Cut

When Jane Davidson first arrived in Erie in August 2013, she had nothing.

What was supposed to be an opportunity for a fresh start quickly became a scramble for survival.

Jane, 53, came to Erie from Las Vegas in hopes of finding stability after years of mental illness had brought on numerous hospitalizations and three suicide attempts. However, on her first day in Erie, her friend with whom she had planned to live expelled from her home.

Jane was, in essence, a stranger in a new town with no money, job, place to live and without any acquaintances. To make matters worse, she felt like she had no recourse due to a lack of confidence and the symptoms present from her borderline personality and anxiety disorders.

Fast forward two years, and Jane’s life is moving along at a healthy clip—quite literally.

Last May, Jane graduated with honors from Toni & Guy’s Hairdressing Academy in Erie, the culmination of the hours she devoted to her training and toward the betterment of herself.

“I went every day and it helped me restore my confidence and feel good about myself,” she said.

It wasn’t so much a coincidence that her excellence in cosmetology school coincided with greater stability in her living situation, her mental health as well as her self-esteem.  After arriving in Erie and before attending Toni & Guy, Jane struggled with daily tasks and felt overwhelmed by life’s challenges.

“I really was emotionally broken down,” she said. “I even felt like I couldn’t do basic paperwork.”

Now accessing resources and tending to issues in the appropriate manner has become second nature, Dawn Haas, Jane’s blended case manager at Stairways, said.

“She’s able to do all those things on her own,” Haas said. “Sometimes she’ll call with a problem or question, and before I can get her an answer, she’ll call me back and tell that she has it solved.”

There was no magic formula or secret handshake for Jane in her process of recovery, just a persistent effort to improve each day.

The results were apparent.

“I stabilized a lot,” Jane said. “Basically, I learned a lot about myself. I took everyone else out of the equation and just concentrated on me.”

That’s not to say Jane is simply concerned with herself. On the contrary, her entire motivation for entering the cosmetology field was based on improving others’ confidence.

“You’re helping people feel good about themselves,” Jane says.

A matter she knows well.



"Stairways helped me to work on recovery, one step at a time." -Ron S


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