Ed Zink’s Inspiring Story of Determination and Giving Back

A manic episode, at the age of 18, then a hospital admittance changed the course of Ed Zink’s life. This very moment became a stepping stone, that eventually inspired Ed to help lift up other people who are struggling.

Ed does not allow himself to be defined by his diagnosis. He has accomplished many things throughout his 53 years. Currently, he is employed as a Machine Operator with UTZ Quality Foods. Also, Ed is a homeowner and he has a beloved son.

Ed commented, “By providing for me, Bell has taught me lessons that have helped me. I pass these life lessons onto my son with autism. I want to make sure that he knows that there is nothing that he cannot do.”

Upon reflection, he said, “My journey has been long, at times it has been dark, but now I see the purpose.” When Ed left the hospital he went to stay in one of Bell’s group homes. It was here that his transformation began. Ed learned that he could be successful working the program.

At the group home, Ed secured employment and was eventually able to move into a minimum care apartment. Ed commented, “I learned life skills here, such as purchasing food and clothing. I learned how to clean and accept responsibility. Also, I learned to accept people for who they are.”

Kris Stroup, the Director of Mental Health Services, was Ed’s caseworker when he first came to Bell. Looking back, Kris reflected, “Ed was young, learning about his mental illness, and how to live with his diagnosis.”

In 2019, almost 30 years later, Kris and Ed were reunited at a NAMI event. Kris happily said, “It was so truly inspiring to hear him talk about how Bell helped him many years ago.”

At the event, Ed mentioned wanting to give back. Despite already being very active with his church, as a Sunday School teacher, and serving as a volunteer with Celebrate Recovery, Ed dedicated time to also volunteer at Bell.

On his days off, he would come into Bell’s Drop-In Center to talk with service users. Kris remarked, “Ed demonstrates that individuals living with a serious mental illness can live with their illness, recover from setbacks, move on, and live meaningful successful lives.”

When helping individuals who are struggling, Ed says, “It’s just about being there and listening to them. My journey can be used to help other people and to let them know it’s going to be tough, but if you stick with it, things will get better.”

Ed’s story is an amazing example of how things did get better and everything that we are capable of accomplishing. Thank you Ed for sharing your story with us, for being an inspiration, and for helping to make a difference in the lives of others.