From left to right: Brenda Leavitt, OHI project manager; Bonnie-Jean Brooks, OHI president and chief executive officer; and Deb Smith, director of intellectual disability services.


By Rich Romero
OHI Resource Developer


OHI, HERMON, Maine – The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to OHI to establish a Clubhouse for adults with mental illness in Ellsworth.


“It’s only because of support such as that of the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation and many other community members, businesses and partners that we’re able to explore evidence-based models of providing services to inspire people to recognize possibilities and lead meaningful lives,” said Kathy Smith, OHI assistant chief executive officer.


Clubhouses are a powerful demonstration that people with mental illness can and do lead normal, productive lives, according to the nonprofit organization, Clubhouse International. Clubhouses provide members with opportunities to build long-term relationships that, in turn, support them in obtaining employment, education and housing. They are community centers that offer members participation in consensus-based decision making regarding all important matters relating to the running of the Clubhouse; opportunities to obtain paid employment in mainstream businesses and industries through a Clubhouse-created Transitional Employment Program. In addition, members participate in Clubhouse-supported and independent programs; assistance in accessing community-based educational resources; access to crisis intervention services when needed; evening/weekend social and recreational events; and assistance in securing and sustaining safe, decent and affordable housing.


Establishing a Clubhouse requires approval from the international organization, training provided by Clubhouse International, and inspection and accreditation by Clubhouse International. OHI has received approval from Clubhouse International to establish a Clubhouse in Ellsworth. There is a Clubhouse (Unlimited Solutions) in Bangor. The next closest Clubhouse in the state (High Hopes Clubhouse) is in Waterville. OHI sent a six-person team to New Clubhouse Development Training in the summer of 2013 at Fort Wayne, Ind.


Available evidence substantiates that Clubhouses provide communities around the world with a cost-effective solution for dealing with the devastating impact which mental illness has on society, and for helping people who live with mental illness achieve their full potential in their communities, according to Clubhouse International. The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a testament to its effectiveness by listing the model on its National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. The holistic approach to rehabilitation is based upon 36 International Standards for Clubhouse Programs, consensually agreed upon by the 341 accredited Clubhouses worldwide and reviewed every two years.


“This grant award from our foundation to OHI signifies our commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities we serve,” said Stacey Haskell, Bangor Savings Bank vice president, marketing and community relations manager. “Bangor Savings Bank is committed to helping improve the health, education, culture and economy of our state.”

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