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Governor LePage Tours Lewiston Clubhouse

December 5, 2012

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Dec. 5
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Communications Director (207) 287-2531

Governor commends staff and club members for providing meaningful contributions to Central Maine community

LEWISTON – Governor Paul R. LePage today toured the Lewiston vocational rehabilitation center he championed the creation of last year.

The visit to the Looking Ahead Clubhouse on Main Street comes just before the one-year anniversary of the resource where central Maine residents can recover from mental illness and become contributors to their communities and the workforce.

Looking Ahead, which is part of Kennebec Behavioral Heath, joins other Clubhouses in Waterville, Augusta and one that opened in October in Bangor. The Clubhouses provide a supportive space for those with mental illness where employment is used as the primary rehabilitation tool through which members become engaged and recover.

A Clubhouse, of which there are more than 300 around the world, is a collaborative community where members work side-by-side staff to recover from mental illness and prepare for and be placed in meaningful employment through education and social programs, and decision-making and governance of Clubhouse operations. In all Clubhouse employment, the member is an employee of the company, earns a competitive wage and receives a pay check directly from the company.

In 1998, Governor LePage was the first person in Maine to give a Clubhouse member employment when he managed Marden’s and he has since received national recognition for his leadership and advocacy on behalf of the High Hopes Clubhouse in Waterville.

In 2011, the newly-elected Governor worked with Maine mental health advocates to start the planning of a Lewiston Clubhouse, which eventually opened the doors of its 7,000 square-foot facility this past January and now has 160 active members with an average daily attendance of 30 people.

During the tour, the Governor met with Clubhouse members to hear their stories and how the Clubhouse has supported them on the road to recovery from mental illness.

“I stand behind the Clubhouse 100 percent because in this model, mental illness is no longer allowed to stigmatize the lives of individuals,” said Governor LePage. “I commend the staff and supporters and members of Looking Ahead for providing a place of dignity, respect and opportunity where all participants are wanted and needed. Your work does not go unnoticed, and you are making a difference in the lives of all of the Clubhouse members and the communities and companies where they make meaningful contributions.”

Looking Ahead Clubhouse Director Christine Berry, who has known Governor LePage through his Clubhouse support and service for 15 years, and also started the Clubhouses in Waterville and Augusta says the Governor’s visit is one members and staff alike have been looking forward to for months.

“The Governor's visit means the world to us as a Clubhouse community and especially to me as he has been such a huge supporter of our Maine residents living with mental illness,” said Berry. “Governor LePage knows first-hand from his work at Marden's that adults living with mental illness can obtain successful employment and maintain that employment with the support of their clubhouse. Our job is to reach out to those folks and to provide them with opportunities that might otherwise be difficult to obtain.”

For more information about the Looking Ahead Clubhouse at 646 Main Street in Lewiston, call (207) 376-1711 or visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lookingaheadclubhouse

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