Moab’s mentally ill find help, support at Interact Clubhouse
by Rudy Herndon
Staff Writer
Apr 24, 2014 | 1877 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
They aren’t related by blood, but the 40-plus members of a local clubhouse for adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses are like family to each other.

Many Interact Clubhouse members have nowhere else to go in town, and the facility serves as a surrogate home for them, according to Interact Program Director Sharon Relph.

“A lot of people here don’t have families, so Interact is their family,” she said.

The clubhouse at 59 N. 200 E. is not only a place where they can find acceptance amongst their peers; Relph noted that it offers them things to do, while connecting them to the services they need.

Program staffers often help members apply for Medicaid, Social Security and food stamp benefits. In addition, case managers can lend a hand to members who want to further their educations, whether they’re seeking high school diplomas, GED certificates or college-level coursework.

As one program of Four Corners Community Behavioral Health, Interact can also guide clubhouse members into supported or independent living situations.

Four Corners runs the Willows supportive housing apartments on Shields Lane, and recently broke ground on the Aspen Cove independent living complex next door. Mentally ill homeless residents will have first dibs on the eight one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units, which are scheduled to open in December.

Relph views clubhouse services as a weekday continuation of the housing component, giving members the chance to get together for lunches, social gatherings, hiking trips and movie screenings, among other things.

“What’s really neat about this environment is that it provides a place for people to come and be accepted by one another,” she said. “We help people deal with everyday life.”

Work is a big part of an average person’s life, yet many clubhouse members are currently unemployed. However, Relph said that program managers can always find chores for members to work on, since the facility is deliberately understaffed.

“We have to rely on everyone’s abilities to get things done,” she said. “Everybody works with each other.”

Tyrome Wilson, for instance, often volunteers to wash dishes, tidy up and answer the clubhouse’s phones.

Wilson – a former high school arts teacher from Chicago – moved to Moab about 14 years ago to get married.

At the time, he knew that he needed support to manage his previously diagnosed schizoaffective disorder. He found that assistance through Interact and Four Corners Community Behavioral Health program services, he said.

“The therapy over there has helped me be happy and adjusted,” he said.

Wilson has since divorced, and his family members want him to move back to Illinois. But he’s decided that he wants to stay in the community, where he’s lived in his own apartment for the past six years now.

“It’s such a loving place,” he said.

Like Wilson, other clubhouse members fell in love with Moab the moment they first set foot here.

Some of them visited the area with their families when they were younger, and they dreamed of coming back one day. Others arrived here by pure chance.

According to Relph, clubhouse member and Willows resident “Mike” wound up in Moab after he rode the rails across the country.

Mike, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, found part-time work detailing cars and performing odd jobs at The Ad-Vertiser. But much of his daily life revolves around the services and activities that the Interact Clubhouse offers.

“I’d be homeless – I don’t know what I’d be doing without the club,” he said.

The clubhouse is open to Four Corners’ enrolled clients and any adults who have been diagnosed with serious and persistent mental illnesses, although program managers also field inquiries from people who show up unannounced.

If it turns out that Interact is not the right place for those people, program managers can guide them in the proper direction, Relph said.

Interact also handles referrals from the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the Utah Vocational Rehabilitation Program and The Salvation Army.

Program staffers will make home visits in cases where clients can’t be around other clubhouse members.

They can also help family members come to terms with a loved one’s mental illness.

“They don’t understand it, so a big part of what we do is education,” Relph said.

As for others in the community who may need help, Wilson wants them to know that it’s available to them, as well.

“They don’t have to just sit there silently and go crazy,” he said.

Interact’s clubhouse is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The clubhouse is located behind Star Hall at 59 North 200 East. For more information, or to set up an orientation tour, call 435-259-7340.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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