This journey started with my youngest son returning to Louisiana in 2016. He had found the clubhouse model in Miami, FL., which is an accredited clubhouse of Clubhouse International. They searched the website and found out that there wasn’t a clubhouse in the state of Louisiana. My son’s idea then was to just start one. I gave him the job of finding out who we needed to speak with to find out how to go about doing that the right way.
In July of 2018, we incorporated as a nonprofit and in August proceeded to make our way to Gateway Clubhouse in Greenville, South Carolina for training on how to start a clubhouse. It was a 3-day training, and we (Rachel Foreman, Sophie Thompson, & me) went and learned a lot.
During this time in Greenville, we all learned exactly what the clubhouse model was. It is a proven program that helps adults living with a mental illness of any kind to recover and be able to re-enter their community with dignity and purpose. When you give someone a reason to get up, a place to go, meaningful work to do while there, and positive socialization with like-minded peers they can succeed. The work they do is done working side by side a small staff.
We came back super excited and ready to open our clubhouse. So, we started our research and began to reach out to different organizations and people that we thought were stake holders in our space for funding. We found out during that time all those we spoke with about our clubhouse thought it was a great idea but wanted to know where we were located. Since we were unable to raise funding that way, we put on our first fundraiser. It was a success, and we were able to find a brick-and-mortar space and opened doors in January of 2020.
We all know what happened 3 months later, the Covid-19 pandemic and everyone was told by our Governor to quarantine at home. We did that like everyone else in the Lafayette area did. I was able to get our members we had at the time on Zoom and like other organizations we held zoom meetings five days a week so we could check on them to see if they needed anything in a physical manner such as groceries or meds. But we also checked on their mental status and what they were planning for self-care.
When the lock down was over, we all went back to the clubhouse 5 days a week and began to work on meeting the 37 Standards that are required by Clubhouse International to become accredited. Unfortunately, I have to say we haven’t reached that goal yet. We have met the small ones that didn’t require a lot of funding, however the major ones such as an Executive Director, more training for staff at a Clubhouse International training clubhouse, and enough staff to start the rest of our program which is a major part of recovery our Transitional Work Program.
We have come a long way in the time that we have been open. We have held successful fundraisers, obtained a contract with Acadiana Area Human Services District in Lafayette. That contract has given us the steady income that has helped us with our day-to-day operational cost. We are working hard now on getting funding from the State and local City of Lafayette.
Focus Clubhouse has made application for adjudicated property in Lafayette that will give us the larger space we need to continue to grow our clubhouse. Stay tuned for further updated blogs on our journey. Also, at this time if you would like to help us you can do so by donating on our website. www.focusclubhouse.org