Paragraph 2 reads: " her condition gradually improved, she says, after she stopped taking prescribed antidepressants."
On an icy winter night in 1988, Macy DeLong huddled on the stoop of a Cambridge, Mass., bookstore, hoping to find a warm place to sleep. It was a few blocks -- but worlds away -- from the Harvard University lab where she once worked as a biology researcher. Suffering from bipolar disorder, she had willfully deserted her comfortable home in Lexington, Mass., for life on the street. "I reached an emotional point which was not rational," says DeLong, now 53. "I couldn't live with myself. I walked out of my house. I left my husband."
Although she recovered enough to return home in six months -- her condition gradually improved, she says, after she stopped taking prescribed antidepressants -- DeLong's perspective was altered forever. "I had wandered through what the state had to offer a homeless person, from dangerous shelters to indifferent doctors,"she recalls. "No one offered me an opportunity to work, to sign a lease, to get back my life."
While still on the street, she launched Solutions at Work, now a nonprofit agency that provides the homeless with transitional employment, low-cost moving services, free cars, furniture and clothing. DeLong estimates that Solutions has assisted nearly 65,000 people since its inception in 1989. "Macy takes everyone as an individual and doesn't categorize them," says Colleen Thomas, 38, a once-homeless mother of three and now one of the agency's program managers. "Just having her believe in me has given me back my pride and self-esteem."
For DeLong, those things were in plentiful supply until she reached her late 30s. The eldest of three daughters of William, 79, a retired finance executive for General Motors, and Maggie, 78, a homemaker, the Illinois-born DeLong was a bright student who majored in biology at Colby College in Maine. Wed to an engineer just after her 1971 graduation, she was soon hired as a technician by Harvard's developmental biology lab. Her career flourished, and the couple hoped to start a family.