Tina’s journey is a strong example of how the Clubhouse changes lives. Over concern about Tina’s feelings of depression, anxiety, fear and loneliness, her doctor referred her to Racine Friendship Clubhouse. Through strong peer support, Tina found a pathway to recovery. For Tina, “the sun got to shining again.” She emerged from the darkness of isolation to find herself volunteering at the reception desk. Through that experience, Tina gained the confidence she needed to take the next step. For her, that step was employment in the community. With the support of vocational services at RFC, Tina secured a position as a dietary aid and within six months was promoted to a team trainer position.
Tina’s life transformation included new friendships, improved mental and physical health and a return to the economic and spiritual community. For Tina, “God opened the door” at the Clubhouse, her “safe haven”, where she knows she is welcomed and accepted with no judgement. Tina is giving back to the members who once offered her support by leading a monthly coping skills group.
“Symptoms of my mental illness were causing me to isolate. When I received a call from the Clubhouse, I realized that people care about me and missed me. That gave me the boost I needed to force myself out of the house.” A friend of Donna’s saw a noticeable change. Donna became more upbeat, she was no longer avoiding people and she returned not only to the Clubhouse, but to the community as well.
Marsha is an inspiration at the Clubhouse. She had been hospitalized over 30 times and incarcerated twice as she coped with the challenges posed by mental illness. The structure and purpose she found with the work oriented programming at the Clubhouse provided invaluable support and skills on her path to recovery, stability and a life with purpose. During her sporadic years of attendance, Marsha found “knowing the Clubhouse would always be a place free of judgment ready to accept her” an integral part of her recovery.
Marsha’s clerical, reception duties, money management and culinary skills improved through Clubhouse work units and helped move her life forward. She also benefitted from job coaching and placement services as she evaluated other employment opportunities in our community.
“Once I began attending the Clubhouse regularly, I found the hope and encouragement I needed to pursue becoming a peer specialist and ultimately achieving that goal”, said Marsha. She recently completed a rigorous training course and passed a challenging state exam to achieve the respected status of being a Wisconsin Certified Peer Specialist. The Clubhouse supported Marsha in her journey to earn the respected status of a state certified mentor to others who are living with mental illness.
I have only been a member of the Racine Friendship Clubhouse for a few months. When I first began coming, I hid myself away. It was difficult to overcome internalized stigma and even more difficult to admit I have mental illness. As it turned out, I found I received the support I needed and felt accepted. I began climbing out of my shell offering to help in any capacity. I have grown and know I will continue to grow. I began using some of the skills I had before my diagnosis over two years ago, including putting together simple excel worksheets, doing Deposit Reconciliations, and building a new improved Membership binder. I have learned a lot about the clubhouse and look forward to learning more.
The clubhouse has offered me a place to come meet new friends, have responsibilities outside of mundane housework at home, and feel like I can still contribute to a cause I believe in.
I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia 16 years ago, when I was 26 years old. I have tried to work several dead-end jobs with no success. I was first hospitalized for my illness in 1991, and spent nine months in the State Hospital. I have been in several other partial hospitalization programs since then. In 2003 I started coming to the clubhouse. It’s a great place that keeps me active and involved. It gives me a place to go. Sometimes when I come I may not be feeling good, but I make myself come to the clubhouse and by the end of the day I feel much better. What I like most is that the staff doesn’t try to “get in my head.” I can come in and stay busy, meet with friends, and even if I’m not feeling good or am having one of my “moments”, my friends at the clubhouse still respect me.
I got sick 20 years ago. I’ve been in eight other programs since then, and out of all of them, Racine Friendship Clubhouse has helped me the most. In other programs, they treat me like a patient. I’m reminded over and over that I’m sick. Here I’m treated like a person – they don’t baby me. I like to interact with people, and help out in the kitchen.
At one time I was married, but with the onset of my illness my marriage fell apart. In the next year, I was hospitalized five times because of severe depression and psychosis. My friend Jimmy started taking me to Racine Friendship Clubhouse four years ago, and since then I haven’t been hospitalized at all. At Racine Friendship Clubhouse there is a constant flow of support and kindness. The vocational director of the Racine Friendship Clubhouse found me a part-time job. In my opinion, spending a day at Racine Friendship Clubhouse is the most effective way for me to direct my efforts for a better life for me and my friends.