1. D.H. was homeless and with no source of income when he started at Reed House but became active, attending daily. At first he was quiet, using the Clubhouse to get a meal and take a shower. He slowly began to work around the Clubhouse, helping prepare meals and clean the building. He developed friendships with other Members and allowed staff to help. We reconnected him with more intense support services which began working on housing. He participated in therapies to address addiction. This routine and consistent support lead to D.H. thinking about returning to work. He found temporary work hanging drywall and doing other general construction for a contractor that had a jobsite close to Reed House. After D.H. relapsed and went into detox, his employer contacted Reed House to say that they wanted him to return to work when he was able. D.H. did return and worked a total of 5 months before relapsing again and moving out of town to be closer to family. This was D.H.’s first employment in over five years and built his confidence that he can work when he manages his addiction problem.
2. J.B. has been involved in Reed House three years and was always motivated to work. She had no source of income and was living with her sister who was very dysfunctional. J.B. was focused but found it difficult to find employment. Using the resources at Reed House she secured several part time sales positions but because they were commission only, few paid much and some didn’t pay at all. With the encouragement and support of Reed House, J.B. enrolled in a Certified Peer Specialist class. This certification provides an entry level credential to work in the mental health field. J.B. completed the training, passed the comprehensive exam, interviewed at three organizations, and secured a full time job, with benefits, at AmericanWorks, a mental health provider in Savannah. J.B. has been employed for 5 months and reports things are going very well.
3. R.S. has long history of a psychotic illness, non-compliance with medications, and law enforcement due to domestic disturbances in the home where he lives with his mother. Despite these difficulties, R.S. was always motivated to work, but his symptoms often interfered. R.S. attended Reed House and a “thought disorder” group regularly. R.S. persisted in talking about work and often used temporary services to find employment, which offered short term placements. Through the support of Reed House, encouraging him to stay connected to services but continue the search, he found a temporary placement at a warehouse that processes shipments of frozen chicken. After three months, he was offered a permanent position and now works full time. We continue to have contact with R.S. almost weekly, talking about workplace issues and his home life. R.S. has now been employed consistently for nine months.
4. J.P. came to the Reed House as a “volunteer”, but soon identified himself as a Member. He was stable and managed his illness well, with a good relationship with his doctor, but no support in building a meaningful and productive day. J.P. completed and passed the exam to be a Certified Peer Specialist. He used the Clubhouse to get into a routine, coming in four days per week, consistently, even on days he didn’t feel “well”. J.P. was encouraged to take on more responsibility in the Clubhouse and provide direct support to his “peers,” the other Members. An opportunity opened at Gateway Behavioral Health for a Certified Peer Specialist. Reed House referred J.P. to the Director. This was a competitive process and J.P. secured the position. J.P. has been on the job now for three months. He is working 24 hours per week and is happy with the schedule. Reed House referred J.P. to a benefits specialist employed by the State, which is assisting him in reporting income, and ensuring he can keep his Medicaid, so important to maintain his mental health treatment. J.P. had a ten-year absence from the labor force.
5. M.M. has been involved in Reed House for over two years. She has not been consistent, but kept returning after absences of a couple of months. M.M. was homeless when she first came to Reed House. Another Clubhouse Member gave her temporary housing, and introduced her to a landlord that works with the Housing Authority. From that connection, M.M. now has subsidized housing. M.M. had “never had a real job” in that she had never been on the payroll of any company. She is 25 years old and dropped out of school at the age of 14. M.M. has significant behavioral issues, and struggles to control a very aggressive posture, which developed from years of living on the streets. Through many hours of support and her building some consistency in attendance, we referred M.M. to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for a part time position. Reed House has an established relationship with ReStore. We walked M.M. through the interview process and prepared the application, which required getting a State ID. M.M. was offered a part-time job. It was a difficult transition, which required frequent on and off site support. M.M. stayed employed for one month. Her aggression interfered with her ability to do the work, but this was her first real employment experience. The employer reported she was a hard worker, arrived on time and worked well, but she could not maintain appropriate workplace relationships with co-workers. More time learning to work with others at Reed House will help her be more successful in her next employment.
6. T.W. was one of Reed House’s first Members. T.W. has a college degree, but despite earnest and repeated attempts, has never secured a position in his field of study. He struggled to maintain a consistent schedule due to symptoms of depression and psychosomatic illnesses. T.W. had challenging issues at home, preventing him from feeling a sense of security. Reed House volunteers helped T.W. through some complex legal matters and then helped him establish a permanent residence that he now owns. T.W. is entrepreneurial by nature. He is currently managing several income generating activities. He produces local concerts and events. He has worked part time at a grocery store, as well as the Lucas Theatre. Several weeks ago, he became employed by a local tour company. He stays in contact with the Executive Director and several Board members to discuss plans and how to best manage all the things he does. This support is imperative to T.W. maintaining a healthy outlook. T.W. has been gainfully employed for the past 11 months. We are now working toward a strategy of permanence.
7. M.G. moved to Savannah about two years ago to live with her aunt and uncle, both of whom are Members of Reed House. She moved into a 1000 square foot house with 8 other family members. The head of the household was the only person gainfully employed, and the ages of the occupants ranged from 50 to 8 years old. M.G. self-reports not being “able to keep a job for long”. Through the encouragement of Reed House, M.G. kept trying to work. In the past six months, M.G. has had three jobs. The one she is working now has lasted 4 months, the longest she has held a job. Things have become more stable at home. Now only five people live in the house, and another family member has become employed. Three members of this family are active Members of Reed House.
8. L.B. is also a long-time Reed House Member. L.B. is in her 60’s and uses Reed House as a resource to help find employment opportunities. She has poor technology skills and needs help with job search and planning. This year she was hired as an independent contractor with the Georgia Consumer Health Network. This organization has a contract with the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities (DBHDD). Each year DBHDD must survey as many clients as possible who are served by the regional mental health providers. L.B. worked independently, contacting providers on a list. Reed House helped her manage this process by helping her organize and plan for agency visits, planning her route (sometime traveling over 100 miles one way), budgeting, and preparing expense reports for reimbursement. L.B.’s contract was for three months and she was informed she will be asked back the next year. L.B. continues to look for suitable part time employment.
9. K.G. has been involved in the mental health system for many years. She has a history of severe mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, and multiple hospitalizations. Since coming to Reed House, she has focused on gaining employment. She first worked for a neighbor on an informal, cash basis, when help was needed. Reed House encouraged K.G. to look for permanent employment. Her first job was at Gulfstream as a custodial worker. To do this job, she caught a bus daily from Middleground Road to Gulfstream. That job was terminated through no fault of K.G. because of changes to the worksite. K.G. diligently secured a job at a Days Inn within two months of being laid off at Gulfstream. That job ended because of an injury on the job which required some recovery time. She recently obtained a position at a local elementary school and is working 30 hours per week. Over the past year, K.G. has applied for jobs consistently when unemployed and secured three jobs, working more of the year than not. Reed House continues to provide support to K.G. as needed. She attends the Clubhouse as her schedule allows and is a good role model for other Members.
The Clubhouse Model uses employment as a motivating factor for recovery. The prospect of returning to work is the incentive for people to stay engaged in treatment. People with serious mental illness have a 90% unemployment rate. But it is our expectation that all Members have the potential to work. So, many Members are engaged in the process of preparing for employment. During the last year, Reed House directly assisted nine Members who successfully gained employment. A description of those nine Members, their stories, and our efforts follows.
Reed House Inc.
Providing support to people with serious mental illness in collaboration with Gateway Behavioral Health System
1144 Cornell Avenue
Savannah, GA 31406
Director: Warren Sparrow