Honor a Caregiver: Spotlight on Abby Litchfield

A woman who is smiling. She is wearing a pink and white v-neck shirt.

When asked what she finds most gratifying about her role with Project Guardianship, case manager Abby Litchfield gave a simple answer that spoke volumes about her compassion and empathy.

“I like helping my clients live their best lives,” she said.

Each day, Abby diligently cares for the 24 individuals on her caseload, people who range from a 30-year-old with developmental disabilities to octogenarians coping with dementia and mental illness. Applying for government assistance, researching housing options, paying bills, purchasing groceries, and tirelessly advocating for their various needs are just a handful of the critical and ever-changing responsibilities Abby capably handles – all to benefit the clients who mean so much to her.

Abby also offers kindness, a personal quality woven into everything she does. “Anger is effortless. Kindness is hard. Try to exert yourself,” she said, quoting a favorite passage from the author Sue Monk Kidd.

On this Friday afternoon, Abby’s kindness was on beautiful display when she talked about one particular client, Patrick Brown*, a reserved man in his early 50s who has experienced more than his share of turbulence. With limited family support and what appeared to be cognitive impairment, Mr. Brown became a PG client several years ago.

Following a period of confusion, anxiety, and erratic behavior, Mr. Brown was ultimately diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2020. Adding to his troubles, an eviction from the apartment his mother had rented for him further threatened his precarious situation. Abby and her team, including lawyers, housing specialists, and finance associates, were with him every step of the way.

Through PG’s efforts, Mr. Brown was placed in a supervised transitional housing residence in his home borough of Staten Island. He also started treatment for his schizophrenia, a combination of medication and therapy.

After less than a year, Mr. Brown’s basic living skills were sharper, his confidence and dignity were boosted, and his mental and physical health had markedly improved – so much so that he was able to move into a supportive, semi-independent apartment with a roommate – a significant step forward in his recovery.

“He has grown by leaps and bounds,” Abby recounted with obvious pride. “He showers more, he can manage his hallucinations, and he has friends and neighbors.”

Daily group therapy, an array of benefits (Medicaid, Snap, SSI, and more), and PG’s holistic caregiving have all contributed to Mr. Brown’s remarkable improvement and his brighter future. So has Abby’s unwavering commitment to his wellbeing. “I am a friendly face and a supporter who is on his side,” she said. “I listen to him and help him find the resources he needs.”

She sees Mr. Brown and her other clients at least once a month, crisscrossing the five boroughs to check in on each one and to build what she hopes will be lasting connections. Although Abby is on the go quite a bit, she relishes the downtime of travel, often listening to music to unwind.

Before joining PG in 2022, Abby served as a direct care professional and volunteered at a food bank. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and is currently pursuing a master’s of social work through an online program, making her weekends almost as busy as her weekdays.

This outstanding case manager is clearly passionate about helping those in need, many of whom have been overlooked or mistreated by society. “I love my clients,” she said without hesitation. “I feel privileged to be working with them and helping them thrive.”

During the month of June, Project Guardianship is spotlighting the critical work of caregivers. Get involved by honoring the caregivers in your life by making a donation to Project Guardianship. Donate here 

* “Patrick Brown” is a pseudonym for a Project Guardianship client. Project Guardianship maintains the privacy and protects the identity of, and all information related to, our clients.