Pathways seeks Clubhouse: Facility would be site for the mentally ill

Janelle Peters of Pathways Community Mental Health talks at a recent meeting at the Peter White Public Library about the Marquette Clubhouse Project. A Clubhouse would provide people with mentally illnesses a chance to take part in work activities and socialize at the facility. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — Pathways Community Mental Health is looking for a place for its Clubhouse project.

A Clubhouse, part of an international model, is not a recreation center but a recovery-focused community offering people with mental illness the chance to achieve their full potential. Only two such facilities exist in the Upper Peninsula: House of Dreams Clubhouse in Menominee and Northern Lights Clubhouse in Hancock.

Pathways, which serves people with severe mental illnesses or emotional disturbances as well as developmental disabilities, held an informational meeting on its Clubhouse project Wednesday at the Peter White Public Library.

Leading the meeting was Janelle Peters of Pathways, the local Clubhouse director who explained the Clubhouse concept.

Clubhouses are programs for people with mental illnesses — who are called members in the voluntary program — and are active participants in their own recovery.

“The whole idea is based around involvement and meaningful work,” Peters said.

In the program, members and staff work alongside each other to perform all the work of a Clubhouse, such as gardening, building maintenance, website development and grant-writing. There would be access to education and paid employment within the entire community and opportunities to socialize and take part in health and wellness programming.

“The staff’s job is to engage members and to work those jobs, and it’s that involvement and meaningful work that provides that sense of purpose and structure and helps in someone’s recovery,” Peters said.

A case statement for the Marquette Clubhouse Project listed the benefits of the program:

≤ higher employment rates at 42 percent annually at accredited Clubhouses, double the average rate for people in the public mental health system.

≤ cost-effectiveness; one year of holistic recovery services are provided to Clubhouse members for the same cost as a two-week stay at a psychiatric hospital.

≤ reduced hospitalizations.

≤ improved well-being.

≤ better physical and mental health.

The Clubhouse would not be a residential facility, Peters said. Instead, it would be open for typical office hours and occasional weekends as the program grew. Clubhouses also are open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every holiday.

Pathways would own and run the the facility, she said.

Cheryl Jobin, a member of the local Clubhouse start-up group, said the Clubhouse in Marquette doesn’t have an official name yet.

“We don’t want to name it until we have enough members to kind of decide on a name,” Jobin said.

Peters said she and the start-up group would be pleased if there were a daily attendance of 25 to 30 people at the Marquette Clubhouse.

“We could see if it could grow from there,” Peters said.

Property at 108 W. Ridge St. had been designated for the Marquette Clubhouse, but that agreement fell through, and the search continues for another building.

A central location in the city is important, with accessibility a key component, said Peters, who noted buying makes more financial sense that renting.

Jobin pointed out the site would ideally be located where employment and transportation are available to members.

“We are going to be in Marquette, and we’re just going to have to find us a place,” Jobin said. “We’ll start getting members, and we’ll help them to find what they need to recover.”

For more information, contact Peters at 906-225-5239.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.