In order to help their adult children living with severe and persistent mental illness, a group of parents got together and founded the Gainesville Opportunity Center (GOC) eight years ago.
The founding principle is simple: people with mental illness can and do lead fulfilling and independent lives.
With vision and determination, the GOC grew from a concept into a community. The GOC is a 503-c3 charitable organization founded on the Clubhouse Model program. Clubhouses are communities through Recovery for Adults, a program for those who are living with a mental illness. We are not a medical facility and do not charge for our services. Therefore, we don’t have patients or clients. Instead, we have members who work side by side with our staff to create the clubhouse experience.
By orchestrating a social and vocational experience, our members and staff work together in the office and through social functions. Members help with everything from marketing and fundraising to making lunch and cleaning our office. There are no member-only or staff-only tasks. Instead, members and staff work together to run the clubhouse. The recovery happens when members realize that every person who contributes has a lot to offer, including themselves!
The next component for many of our members is employment. Due to their illnesses, many members have lost their jobs or remain unemployed for prolonged periods of time. Members can work with our executive director Pam Demers or our employment coordinator to find work. We offer everything from writing resumes to job coaching. And since our members work so closely with our staff, we are able to help evaluate and guide them toward a suitable career path.
The next step for the GOC is to offer transitional employment. Many of the over 300 clubhouses worldwide partner with local businesses to help place members hoping to return to work into suitable places of employment. For the transitional employment program, a company will hold part-time jobs open for GOC members to perform. Typically, transitional jobs are high turnover entry-level jobs such as reception and greeting; data entry; and office cleaning. The advantage for members is that they are able to work in a supportive environment for a period of timing before rejoining the regular workforce. The GOC recruits and trains the individuals and provides backup in case the employee cannot come to work, all to the benefit of the businesses.
The GOC is a unique service in our North Central Florida community. Along with new member referrals and fundraising, we also need help from the community, such as businesses who are interested in partnering with us under the Clubhouse Model.
We can make a difference!
For more information, please contact our offices at 352-224-5523. You may email Executive Director Pam Demers at Pamela.Demers@goclubhouse.org or Employment Coordinator Brett Buell at Brett@goclubhouse.org.
Clubhouses Worldwide: http://www.clubhouse-intl.org/