Community employment program focused on supporting individuals who live with mental illness celebrated 30 years during National Disability Employment Awareness Month
PHILADELPHIA—COMHAR’S Open Door Clubhouse (The Clubhouse) celebrated its 30 year anniversary today with a reception and luncheon at the clubhouse facility located at 3147 Emerald Street in Philadelphia. The Open Door Clubhouse is a community-based employment and mental health program that supports individuals living with the effects of mental illness and helps them transition from the role of dependent patient to independent individual.
The luncheon, held in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, featured remarks from special guests including former CBS3 anchorwoman Pat Ciarrocchi, Maria del Mar Cabiya from the Department of Behavioral Health and Disability Services, David Young who serves as President of PAPRS (Pennsylvania Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services), as well as a performance by local artist and Clubhouse member, Lisa Smith. Dean Kanefsky of Wilson’s Meats was presented with the Open Door Clubhouse Employer Award, which honors employers who have made a difference in the lives of clubhouse members.
“We’re proud of the longevity and positive impact that the Open Door Clubhouse has had in Philadelphia over the last three decades,” said Bill Parfitt, President and CEO of COMHAR. “As the city’s only accredited Clubhouse, it has done an outstanding job of connecting members to local employment opportunities in order attain better lives. Today we recognize not only the success of our members, but the larger success of the communities which we serve.”
The Clubhouse works towards empowering members by giving them a sense of responsibility and allowing them to develop relationships with each other in a community that supports the development of employment skills. The pillars of recovery in the clubhouse are the work-ordered day, consensus-based decision making, chances to gain paid employment through its Transitional Employment Program (TEP), access to community-based educational resources, and social events. Members gain the ability to redefine their own identities through an increased sense of self, and the Clubhouse encourages all members to move out into the larger community as they take on employment opportunities through the program.
“I was attending the Clubhouse for only 2 months when I was asked ‘are you ready to go to work?’” Lu Arce, a Clubhouse member and current employee at Wilson’s Meats, said. “I immediately said yes to my first TEP and to my first job ever...secretly, I never thought I would be able to do it. But I did the entire 6 months without taking a day off...I knew then all my efforts were paying off and that I could accomplish something—anything I wanted.”
The Clubhouse focuses on the strengths, talents and abilities of its individuals. Through this type of encouragement and support, the program introduces a sense of purpose and confidence in members that allows them to gain self-sufficiency through meaningful employment with local businesses. The Clubhouse first opened in 1986 and has served over 600 members throughout the years.
The Open Door Clubhouse is a member of Clubhouse International, the accreditation organization that helps launch and expand Clubhouses and provides the International Standards for Clubhouse Programs. These proven standards have been developed over two decades and are operative in 320 Clubhouses worldwide. The first Clubhouse, Fountain House in New York City, began in 1948 and its model has been duplicated over 400 times internationally. The goal of Clubhouse International is to continue this process in hopes that there will be Clubhouses in cities and towns in every nation, and encourage those who struggle with mental illness, no matter where they are, to live their best lives.
For more information about COMHAR and the Open Door Clubhouse, visit their website: http://www.comhar.org.
COMHAR partners with people of all ages with mental illness, addiction, HIV/Aids and/or intellectual disabilities and support them in their journey toward healthier and happier lives. COMHAR creates an environment of trust and support by meeting the individual and family where they are. Together, we identify an individual’s strengths and goals and develop a plan built to achieve their hopes and dreams. As a diverse human services organization serving Philadelphia, Montgomery and Northampton counties, we help create innovative and sustainable communities, meeting their needs today and tomorrow.