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Tina Larson

Tina Larson
Tina Larson

“Wellness is possible for everyone,” says Tina Larson, coordinator of the Pathways Learning Center (PLC), a program of the non-profit Laurel Hill Center, helping Lane County adults recover from severe mental illness. “They come here for some tools to put in their toolbox.” Larson considered a nursing career when she was a student at the Lankenau Girls School in Philadelphia, but after graduation she found work as a flight attendant, and eventually moved to the West Coast. “I mostly flew to Japan the last five years,” she says. “I had to retire at 32.” Thirteen years later, living in Eugene, she trained as a certified nursing assistant and worked in the Sacred Heart Neonatal ICU while she studied psychology and sociology at LCC. “I went back to school so that I could work in social service,” says Larson, who volunteered at White Bird Clinic in the mid-90s, was hired as a crisis worker, and served as White Bird volunteer coordinator until 2004. She has managed the Pathways program since it replaced the Harmony House social drop-in center in 2006. Many PLC classes are taught by peer teachers, also in recovery from mental illness. “We help people identify with their wellness and strength, not their disabilities,” she says. “We focus on building skills so that people can take charge of their lives.”