The proposal for a Seattle Clubhouse was formed by concerned community members for the purpose of creating a social/vocational rehabilitation and recovery opportunity (Clubhouse) presently missing for residents living with mental illness in Greater Seattle. This model is a community-based approach that complements existing treatment options. The need was particularly felt while engaging in street outreach over the last five years though a Mental Health Outreach program co-funded by Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and the Downtown Seattle Association’s Metropolitan Improvement District. After companioning one of our downtown neighbors on the street with serious mental illness, the question remains, “Where can we go during the day that provides a place to come, to have meaningful work, meaningful relationships and a place to return to?” The Clubhouse scope extends far beyond already available services and programs – which focus primarily on crisis management or short-term treatment – to provide a safe and accepting place, valuable work to perform within the organization, opportunities to socialize with friends and co-workers, and access to employment within the wider community: to be known, to be engaged, to be a member not a client. Participation is voluntary and membership is long-term. The program provides ongoing support at no cost to the members.
Documented research on existing Clubhouse International clubhouses indicates that members and their communities benefit from higher employment rates, a decrease in hospitalization, reduced incarceration, improved well-being, and reduced cost of services in comparison to other programs. The Seattle Clubhouse expects to achieve similar outcomes.
To date, the Seattle Union Gospel Mission (SUGM) has sent their Community Mental Health Director, Special Projects Director and a member from a former Seattle Clubhouse to New Clubhouse Development training in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2014. Since that time, the Director of Mental Health Programs, Larry Clum, has been presenting the idea to various potential partners in the Seattle area. A group of concerned citizens, including Many Minds Collaborative, has come together to launch a downtown site while preparing the strongest possible foundation for success. Based on community input, guidance from Clubhouse International and partnership with HERO House in Bellevue as its fiscal sponsor, the project is positioned to launch as an independent 501c3 in order to obtain the broadest base of support and greatest chance of ongoing sustainability, modeling fidelity once the doors are opened.