During the past thirty years, the experiment of de-institutionalizing persons with serious and persistent mental illness has
failed. Appropriate care for such persons is absent in the community and therefore, the opportunity for re-integration into
the mainstream of life has not been afforded. The chronically mentally ill have experienced repeated hospitalizations and
have not adapted to living in less restrictive environments. Instead, they are consistently re-institutionalized in our jails
and hospitals or, more often, are homeless. In many cases, families are the primary caretakers of their ill relatives. As the
family providers age and their resources are strained, one of their preeminent concerns is, “What will happen to my
mentally ill child when I am no longer here or able to provide supervision and care?”
The availability of appropriate housing in the community is thus a necessity. For some, appropriate housing may be
needed for a lifetime. Such housing must provide a firm structure and a moderately stimulating and emotionally benign
environment for the residents. It is the belief of Family Initiative Residences, Inc. (FIR) that such housing enables the
resident to be productive and active in the community and to live a normal and fulfilling life as possible. FIR feels that it is
through such goals that its mission, "To provide an affordable, supportive home environment for adults with serious and
persistent mental illness allowing them to develop responsibility and work toward living independently," is accomplished.
FIR evolved from Georgia Alliance for the Mentally Ill (GAMI) in 1982 and opened its first group home on Midlawn Drive in
Decatur, Georgia in April 1986. A second residence was opened on Eddington Way in Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1987.
The down payment for the houses was obtained through personal donations and grants from Georgia Alliance for the
Mentally Ill, the metropolitan Atlanta community Foundation and the Episcopalian Charities. Thanks to State Senator Bud
Stumbaugh of Stone Mountain, FIR was given a small State grant to furnish the houses and hire staff. This continuing
grant as well as fees from the residents paid the minimal operating expenses through 2005. A third residence was opened
on Aldea Drive in Decatur, Georgia in September 1999. This house operated on private funding through the generosity of
family, friends of FIR and a grant from the United Way of Atlanta. In July of 2006, the State Granted Aid and all DeKalb
County funding was taken away. The funding loss accounted for 60% of the total income and FIR now had to fund 100% of
the DeKalb County residents.
After serving on the Board of Directors for two years she became the Executive Director of
FIR in 1998.
Educated at Mesa College in San Diego & Georgia State University in Accounting and
CEO and Managing Partner of a Mid-Size Engineering Consulting Firm for 19 years traveling
extensively around the world overseeing the design and development of Mass Transit
Projects for State and Federal Governments.
Retired from Engineering with the Olympics project in Atlanta. Shortly after retirement joined the Board of Directors
of FIR in a desperate search for housing for her mentally ill 21 year old son, Josh.
Pat has extensive experience serving on Task Forces and Boards at local, state and federal level. Pat is a frequent
speaker at NAMI meetings and other mental health forums.
Pat has served as Committee Member on the Mental Health Summit headed up by Judge Bethel with four initiatives
identified. The first of those initiatives is the need to increase housing in Region 3.
She resides in Greensboro, Georgia with her husband and daughter. Pat and her husband Denny have a 45 year old
son with mental illness and her 15 year old granddaughter with Autism.
Pat’s goal before retiring from FIR is to mentor other groups to form FIR Programs.
Ruthann Lacey has been in private practice as an attorney for 22 years. She is licensed to practice in the state of
Georgia and Washington DC. She concentrates in Elder Law and Special Needs Law.
Her practice is dedicated to the unique and complex planning needs of seniors, their adult children, their
grandchildren, and individuals of all ages with special needs.
Ruthann serves as a fiduciary throughout the state of Georgia, as Guardian, Conservator, and as Executor and
Administrator of Estates. She assists in settlement of law suits by resolving liens, administering Qualified Settlement
Funds, drafting Special Needs Trusts and securing their approval by state agencies, and acts as Trustee of Trusts,
including Settlement Protection Trusts and Special Needs Trusts.
Ruthann is a graduate of Emory University School of Law, a member of the Special Needs Alliance, a member of the
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, a member of the Council of Advanced Practitioners (CAP), and is one of
just nine Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELA) in Georgia.
She has also served as a Trustee on the board of The Georgia Community Trust, and is past chair of the Elder Law
Section of the Georgia Bar.
She was the first Elder Law Attorney in Georgia to be chosen as a Super Lawyer and has remained a Super Lawyer
since 2006. She was featured in an article for the Georgia Super Lawyer magazine in 2011.
Ruthann is an active speaker on the local, state and national levels, both to professional and public groups and
organizations. Recent engagements include chairing the annual Special Needs Trust program for the Institute of
Continuing Legal Education in Georgia for the fourteenth consecutive year, and presenting at Stetson University’s
Special Needs Trust National Conference.
She is an editor and published author, having been published in the Georgia Bar Journal and the American Bar
Association’s Family Law Quarterly. Among other accomplishments, she has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal,
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the American Bar Association Journal and has been a guest on The Clark Howard
Ms. Lacey is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation
Office: (770) 483-4269
Cell: (404) 304-9132
Confidential email: email@example.com