Quincy man has physical and mental issues and can’t work. Lend a Hand donors stepped up

Lend a Hand is The Patriot Ledger’s annual holiday charitable program and has raised more than $3.3 million for South Shore people in need.

Tom Gorman For The Patriot Ledger
Published 4:44 a.m. Dec. 29, 2023
Jim Mac explains his physical and mental struggles in his Quincy apartment.

Editor’s note: The following is a profile of an Aspire Health Alliance client who received help through The Patriot Ledger’s Lend a Hand campaign. His name has been changed to protect his privacy.

A 2014 hit-and-run car accident sent Jim Mac on a dark journey that included homelessness along with mental and physical health struggles.

Unable to work after the accident, Jim’s financial world quickly crumbled. He was no longer able to afford his home.

“The folks that hit me took off. I had no insurance. I had nothing,” the 62-year-old Weymouth native said. “I lasted a couple years in my house on my 401(k), and then I just lost everything.”

In 2018, Jim went to a homeless shelter, where he would spend the next three years. Through the efforts of the Weymouth Housing Authority, Jim found an apartment in Quincy, where he has been living for two years.

Although he had some depression and anxiety most of his life, Jim said those struggles became more significant after the accident. It got to a point where he found it difficult to leave his apartment and remember things.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to go out the door to just visit family and friends,” he said. “What I always thought was just sadness and a little bit of nervousness, I went to a therapist and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.”

Jim Mac looks out the window of his Quincy apartment. His depression and anxiety make it difficult for him to go outside. Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023.

For the past four years, he has been going to the Discovery Day Treatment program offered through Aspire Health Alliance in Braintree. It has helped him deal with his anxiety and depression, he said.

“I go there three to five days a week,” Jim said. “It’s a great, great day program. I can’t say enough about it. They are a great organization.”

In addition to his mental health issues, he also is dealing with physical disabilities including degenerative disc disease in his back and osteoarthritis in both knees.

“I’m going to a pain clinic for my back and getting physical therapy,” Jim said. “I’m getting injections every three months that haven’t worked. I’m hoping to avoid surgery.”

He worked as a printer for many years, and was in management the latter part of his career.

“Between the physical accident and the issues I’m having with depression and anxiety, I wasn’t able to work anymore,” he said.

Jim has found it difficult to buy food and clothes, and the financial strain is adding to his depression and anxiety.

His only pair of winter boots is falling apart, as are some of his clothes.

Because of dietary restrictions due to his illnesses, Jim can’t always find the right foods at the food pantry. He often runs out of food by the end of the month since food stamps just go so far.

He said The Patriot Ledger’s Lend a Hand program allowed him to buy gifts for his grandnephews and will help him buy sorely needed clothes.

“With the gift cards I already got, I was able to buy presents for my grandnephews that I didn’t think I was going to be able to do, and I plan on getting myself a jacket and some boots,” he said.

Jim Mac, of Quincy, says Lend a Hand has helped him deal with his financial struggles.

Jim expressed appreciation for the Lend a Hand program.

“It is great that there is a program like this around,” he said. “I am so grateful to The Patriot Ledger. It came at the right time.”

The father of two boys, 17 and 14, said he is also thankful for his girlfriend, his family and other agencies and people who have helped him during his difficult time.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I couldn’t have gotten where I am without everyone’s help,” Jim said. “Anyone else going through a similar situation, don’t do it alone. There are people to help. Take the help. There is help out there. You just have to take the initiative.”