Clubhouse Stories

Creating a Thriving Employment World
November 1, 2015

By Colleen Cann MacKenzie, Crossroads Cape Breton, Canada

Do not underestimate the power of friendship and the transformative power of work to be found in your Clubhouse!”

Crossroads Cape Breton was not thriving 5 years ago; especially in relation to our employment efforts. Our 2010 accreditation report described us as having “diminished energy and vibrancy” and “diverted from our primary goal of providing a strong and accessible employment function.” The message was clear… our clubhouse was DAWG TIRED in our employment efforts and something had to change if we wanted our clubhouse to really thrive.

We began the process of transforming our community and ourselves.

We Rediscovered our Clubin 2012. We committed to creating a vibrant Work-Ordered Day, minimizing distractions from our true purpose and creating space for members to feel wanted, needed, and respected. New leaders within our community emerged with intent and pride.

We committed to training and to attending the Employment Symposium hosted by Fountain House. We surrounded ourselves with people in the clubhouse world who deeply understood the restorative power of work.

We decided to “go big or stay home”. Some of the largest employers in our local community became our target. Crossroads branded ourselves with T-shirts, slogans, logos, engaged in social media and claimed our place in the community in a larger than life way… No more quietly sitting in the corner for us! In 2014, we hosted a day-long Free Your Mind Wellness Fair & Talent Festival which brought our club into contact with literally thousands of people.

Crossroads Cape Breton has changed our reality. Our accreditation report from August, 2015 states: “Despite the very high unemployment rate, Crossroads has developed 5 new TEPs The Clubhouse exceeds the Clubhouse International Employment Guidelines benchmarks for members employed in supported and independent employment.”

Crossroads now has 11 TEPs and 3 Group Placements; 52 members worked last year. We have hired a Career Coordinator to further members’ career aspirations; we have weekly, club-wide employment & education meetings and our EE Dinners are our most spectacular and popular evening program. Our employment agenda has top billing in our clubhouse. We celebrate members’ efforts everywhere

Crossroads now connects with groups of people who are in positions to make decisions: presidents, directors, government officials, etc. We let employers know that if they want work done well – if they like to partner with a strong, grounded organization that will help their business and serve a critical social purpose – that Crossroads is the answer.

Clubhouses have to do what needs to be done. Do not underestimate the power of friendship and the transformative power of work to be found in your clubhouse! We cannot afford to underestimate our role in the recovery members are experiencing. When we are struggling, we convince ourselves that employment is a luxury in our clubhouse – this could not be farther from the truth. Members working in jobs and careers that value them as individuals are the life blood of a clubhouse. Clubhouse International puts targets in place to make sure we remember how vital employment is to all of us.

If employment is one of the biggest struggles in your Clubhouse (and for most of us it is), do not sit by and accept the way things are. Aim not to survive but to thrive. Lead by example and build the bridge as you walk on it. Place one foot in front of the other, look into each other’s eyes, grab a hold of each other’s arm and move!