Submitted by Phyllis McElroy.
It’s a sunny and warm day, which is unseasonable for Fall in Tacoma but a perfect setting to tour the space that is now the Progress House Clubhouse. On the first floor of Eastside Assembly of Believers on Portland Avenue is where individuals living with mental illness can come to learn skills, build community, or find a job and housing, if needed. Program Director, Cornell Harris speaks to a crowd of about 20 about the different programs available to members with an appeal for more community partnerships. “We can’t do this without the rest of the community, namely, you. It is our goal that the impact we make will also see a decline in homelessness and substance abuse in this area as well.”
One of the main things that help those whose lives have been disrupted by mental illness is to have a place to come, learn important life skills and gain meaningful employment. These are the tenets upon which the Progress House Clubhouse was built. They have partnered with Shared Housing Services, Elwood Staffing, and Community Housing Solutions–all local leaders in their industry that are on the ground working diligently to help those in need.
Right now, the Clubhouse is open on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. but they are working toward a Monday thru Friday schedule that includes weekly programming, peer-to-peer training and instructor led workshops. Each week members will meet briefly for a staff meeting where they will receive daily assignments and set breakfast and lunch menus. Later, classes and workshops get under way.
“We saw an immediate need in the men and women that were transitioning out of the prison system and out of our care. They lacked the resources and structure to continue to thrive.” Says, Cynthia Fedrick, COO of Progress House. “So, when we were introduced to the Clubhouse Model, we knew we had to bring it to Pierce County.”
The Pierce County health department reports that in 2017, 26% of people over 18 had 1-13 poor mental health days per month and in 2018 people averaged 4 poor mental health days per month. The state average is 3.8 meaning, 12% of the local population has frequent mental distress. With the insurgence of Covid-19 and state lockdown, this number likely has significantly increased so the Clubhouse could not have opened at a more opportune time. Especially because poor mental health can lead to substance disorders and other problems.
“When the community around you changes, you must alter your approach to solving its issues.” Says, Program Director, Cornell Harris. Across America social workers and mental health professionals have partnered with community leaders and businesses to create Clubhouses since the late 1940s. The model began at Fountain House in New York City and is an internationally recognized, evidence-based program. Research on Clubhouses has clearly established that members benefit from higher employment rates, a decrease in hospitalization, reduced incarceration, improved well-being, and reduced cost of services in comparison to other programs. (Analysis of the Association of Clubhouse Membership with Overall Costs of Care for Mental Health Treatment, Swungyoung Hwang, et al. Community Mental Health Journal, June, 2016)
“We have more slots for new members and hope that the community will tell their loved ones about our program.” Says Harris. Anyone interested in becoming a member or partnering with Progress House Clubhouse can visit www.progresshouse.us/clubhouse or call 253.235.9289.