GOSHEN — Elkhart County Clubhouse has been around for a few months and they’re in the middle of a renovation, but the mental-health group decided First Friday is a good time to throw a party and show the place off to the public.
“We painted the front and back porch, a little on the inside,” said Rich Meyer, director of the nonprofit group. “Sort of in the middle of the remodeling we decided, let’s have a party,” he said.
That’s why they’re inviting people to come tour their historic house at 114 S. Fifth St. at 3 p.m., kicking off the First Friday festivities downtown.
The local Clubhouse opened May 22 as a place for adults diagnosed with mental illness to gather together, work and support each other.
“Average daily attendance is about 12 to 15 and we are filling two jobs at Maple City Market in the produce section,” Meyer said.
For the open house, “We have a couple members telling stories, someone from Maple City Market will talk about the employment piece, the mayor will say a few words,” there will be a ribbon-cutting and there will be snacks for people, Meyer said.
“This is a fulfillment of many dreams, after years of work and planning to make a Clubhouse for Elkhart County,” said member Leah Garboden, who helped work to bring the organization — originally founded in New York — here.
“Everything about Clubhouse is voluntary. Come when it suits, join in the work as you can, leave when you want,” said member Andrew Borntrager in a written announcement. “As members and staff, we support each other. If you think you or someone you know might benefit from Clubhouse, we hope you’ll come visit.”
Members and staff work together to operate the Clubhouse and to support members in returning to work or school.
“Clubhouse is a proven effective and cost-effective resource,” said Dan Kinsey, medical director at Oaklawn and member of the Clubhouse board. “I’m pleased with the excellent service that Elkhart County Clubhouse is providing already,” said Kinsey in the written announcement.
Dr. James Gingerich of Maple City Health Care Center helped start the local Clubhouse. “We first learned about the Clubhouse model several years ago and we were impressed with what we saw when we visited Carriage House in Fort Wayne,” he said in the same written announcement.
Hilda Peters, a board member, said, “This grand opening is a celebration of and for the many people who have contributed to making this happen. It’s also another way for us to let the community know about our service.”
Meyer said even if people can’t make it to the First Friday grand opening, “we’re open 9 to 5 Monday through Friday and always ready to give tours. Come any time.”