Brien Center UNICO Dinner Honors Senator Downing

Brien Center CEO Christine Macbeth presented state Sen. Benjamin Downing with its Leadership Award on Thursday.

Maria Congelosi was feeling so low that she tried to kill herself. Congelosi is a Romanian native who came to the Berkshires because she was adopted. By the age of 9 or 10, she started getting into physical altercations with her adoptive mother. Throughout school she felt self-conscious, had depression and anxiety. She was teased by her peers.
“Growing up wasn’t easy. I had image issues. I didn’t like myself. I was excluded a lot. I didn’t have friends,” Congelosi said.
Her mother put her in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and Congelosi grew attached to her Big Sister. But that woman started pushing her responsibilities onto Congelosi.
“She kind of took advantage of me and my kindness,” Congelosi said. “I always thought she cared but she never really did. A few years ago she finally broke my trust. I’ve had a hard time trusting people since then.”
Her depression picked up. Her anxiety got worse.
“I got to the point when I wanted to die. I felt so worthless. My mom and dad gave me up for whatever reason. I have no idea why,” Congelosi said.
On Thursday, tears started to flow down Congelosi’s face when she introduced her mother to hundreds of people at the Brien Center’s annual UNICO dinner. Congelosi had gone to the Brien Center, where she was matched with therapists and other mental health professionals who got her medication and treatment to conquer her illnesses.
Now, Congelosi has a strong relationship with her mother and has started to “put her self out there.” She went from being afraid to speak to addressing a packed Itam ballroom.
“The Brien Center is a place that saved my life,” Congelosi said.