Clubhouse member Alex Odesskiy (center) helps Meg McClure (left) and Meg’s husband, Harold McClure (right), set up a poster stand at the Everett Clubhouse. Harold McClure calls the opening of the clubhouse “the fulfillment of a vision.” (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Clubhouse member Alex Odesskiy (center) helps Meg McClure (left) and Meg’s husband, Harold McClure (right), set up a poster stand at the Everett Clubhouse. Harold McClure calls the opening of the clubhouse “the fulfillment of a vision.” (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Adults living with mental illness now have place of their own

The opening of the Everett Clubhouse is ‘the fulfillment of a vision’ for an Everett couple.

It was the dream of two Everett parents, Harold and Meg McClure, to open a community center where those living with mental illness could gain skills and the confidence to pursue educational or personal goals.

The drive to make that happen, which began more than two years ago, has now become a reality. This week the Everett Clubhouse opened on Wetmore Avenue, operating from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“I’m thrilled; it’s the fulfillment of a vision,” Harold McClure said.

Anyone 18 or older with a mental illness and a referral from their primary mental health provider may join.

The clubhouse’s mission is to help provide rehabilitation for those living with the effects of mental illness, Meg McClure said. That can come from tasks such as helping run the clubhouse or the social contacts that can be made at its events, including lunches and outings.

“We don’t have any place for people to be welcomed back into society once they’ve been isolated by this very cruel disease — mental illness,” said Karen Schilde, a board member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Snohomish County branch. Clubhouses like the one now open in Everett provide that opportunity, she said.

Program director Soozee McNamara (left) and Meg and Harold McClure stand outside the new Everett Clubhouse. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Program director Soozee McNamara (left) and Meg and Harold McClure stand outside the new Everett Clubhouse. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Working with program director Soozee McNamara, members will be responsible for running the clubhouse, doing everything from answering the phone, working in its cafe, grocery shopping, menu planning, budgeting and going out into the community to talk about the services offered there.

“We’re looking for folks who need something meaningful to do with their days,” McNamara said. “Some people simply need a place to go hang out and be around other people.”

McNamara, 50, previously worked for 13 years at a similar clubhouse in Spokane.

Much of living with mental illness is based on the ability to fit in to families, communities and workplaces, she said. “If you’ve been out of work for any length of time, you start to doubt yourself and lose social skills.”

The clubhouse is setting up a program with local businesses where a staff member goes to a job and learns the skills it requires, then a club member steps in. If a club member is sick, a staff member fills in until they return.

The jobs are part-time, usually about 20 hours a week, and last six to nine months. Then the job is rotated to another club member.

“Typically the hardest thing is the employer wants to keep the person,” McNamara said. “Many times employers say, ‘They show up and do a great job.’”

The Everett Clubhouse is affiliated with Hero House NW, which has clubhouses in Seattle and Bellevue.

Clubhouse program director Soozee McNamara hugs Harold McClure as they set up poster boards at the new Everett Clubhouse. The McClures worked for more than two years to open the clubhouse, which provides rehabilitation for people living with mental illness. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Clubhouse program director Soozee McNamara hugs Harold McClure as they set up poster boards at the new Everett Clubhouse. The McClures worked for more than two years to open the clubhouse, which provides rehabilitation for people living with mental illness. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The local clubhouses are part of a movement that began in 1948 in New York City and now has nearly 300 clubhouses in 30 countries.

The McClures interest in having an Everett clubhouse grew out of their experience with their son, Colin, a Jackson High School graduate who had been accepted to the Art Institute of Seattle but was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was hospitalized twice.

His parents saw the need for people like their son to get interim support after being treated for mental illness.

Colin McClure, now 30 and living in Eastern Washington, is very pleased that a clubhouse has opened in Everett, his father said.

The McClures spent more than two years working with area groups, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness Snohomish County, to open the clubhouse.

“We would not be anywhere without the help of Hero House NW,” which supported their efforts, including via fundraising, Meg McClure said. The Everett Clubhouse will receive some $100,000 in state grants over two years for start-up costs.

The goal of opening a local clubhouse was announced in December.

It was welcomed by Compass Health, which once ran its own clubhouse in Snohomish County. That clubhouse closed in the late 1990s when its government funding was cut.

Harold McClure spent about five months touring neighborhoods, stopping to look at spaces with “for rent” signs, contacting local real estate agents and checking Craigslist before selecting the Wetmore Avenue building with about 1,500 square feet of space.

“Our goal is really getting a place for people to come and know they’ve got people who care, and where they can make friends,” Meg McClure said. “That’s the beginning step.” She said she hopes that up to 20 people will come to the clubhouse on the days that it’s open, building to a membership of about 100.

“It may not be too long before we realize that we’re too small,” Harold McClure said. “Wouldn’t that be great?”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

How to connect

The new Everett Clubhouse, associated with Hero House NW, 1901 Wetmore Ave., Everett, is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. The clubhouse assists those 18 and older who are living with mental health issues pursue employment, educational and personal goals. Membership is free. For more information, call 425-389-9510 or go to www.everettclubhouse.org.

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