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January 31, 2012
Augusta - Jobs were on the agenda during Maine Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass’ recent visit to Capitol Clubhouse in Augusta. The Commissioner was there to learn about the clubhouse model for vocational rehabilitation services for adults with mental health issues.
The visit included lunch and a tour of the facility led by one of the clubhouse members, Wayne, who has been part of the clubhouse since it was established in 2002 and got a job with the help of the Capitol Clubhouse employment unit.
“I was impressed by their efforts to help members identify and achieve career goals,” Winglass said. “The Maine Department of Labor is fortunate to have Capitol Clubhouse as a partner in the Augusta region as we work on our common commitment to ensuring everyone who wants a job has an opportunity to work.”
Clubhouse director, Kathy Reardon explained the role of the organization’s employment unit in helping members with resumé writing, preparing for interviews, and job coaching.
“We work with our members to develop an individual service plan that leads to competitive employment in the community,” Reardon said. “That often includes transitional work opportunities where members have a chance to get practical job skills that can lead to permanent employment in the future.”
Capitol Clubhouse also makes referrals to Maine Department of Labor vocational rehabilitation services where members can get additional training and employment support services to help them find and keep a job. Vocational rehabilitation services are accessed through Maine’s statewide network of CareerCenters.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, work is an important factor in the health, recovery and general well being of people who live with mental illness. Without the right help, however, finding and keeping a job can be a challenge. NAMI estimates that between 60 and 80 percent of people with mental illness are unemployed.
Capitol Clubhouse follows a service model utilized at over 300 similar organizations around the world. Maine has three clubhouses, including the High Hopes Clubhouse in Waterville and the Looking Ahead Clubhouse that opened this month in Lewiston.
In November, Governor LePage was recognized by National Employment Expansion Project in Washington for his support of employment efforts at High Hopes Clubhouse in Waterville. Governor LePage became involved with the organization when it opened in 1997 and served as a member of the organization’s advisory board. As general manager of Marden’s Governor LePage offered and supported the first transitional employment site utilized by the clubhouse in Waterville.
Over lunch prepared and served by clubhouse members, Commissioner Winglass heard from a member named Rose who shared her plans for reemployment.
“I worked in the medical sector for close to thirty years, up until I had a car accident that made it impossible to do that work anymore,” she said.
Working with Capitol Clubhouse, Rose is seeking vocational rehabilitation services that can help her retrain for work using her sign language skills, possibly in a health care setting.
“Going back to work is important for me – even if it means starting over and doing something new,” she said. “I’m getting the help I need here and I know I’m going to be successful.”