HOME. The word means a roof over your head, protection from the elements, and a sense of safety and belonging. Although GAC is most closely associated with readying members for work and paid employment, this week we are focusing on a few of our members who, with the help of GAC, have created their own homes.
Shelby Manuel, Member since November 2001
"Having your own place for people who experience mental illness is VERY IMPORTANT. We don't want to be on the streets. Sometimes we want to live with other people and sometimes we want to have our own place. I have my own place in Bay View, which I got with the help of GAC and Rachel Forman. I love having a bathroom of my own and my own space. My 3 grandsons love to visit me there. I enjoy helping my members find housing because I was given the opportunity to have a good place by GAC. Now, I love being able to "give back" to others what was given to me. That includes housing and other good things, such as support, understanding, and forgiveness."
M. J., Member since August 2021
" I first went to the Crisis Resource Center because I was living in an environment that was toxic to my mental health. I was able to stay there for 46 days, but then I had to leave. I ended up at a temporary homeless shelter. I was miserable there and I had difficulty finding housing because landlords were not interested in the housing voucher that I had. My psychiatrist suggested that I join GAC for support. I had no idea that GAC would help me with housing. After 3 months of my own unsuccessful searching, Nikki Lelinski told me about Atid Properties, a rental property firm, and spoke to them on my behalf. They were willing to give me a chance. GAC got me a new bed and some household essentials. Thanks to GAC and Atid, I have been living in my own apartment for the past 6 weeks and coming to GAC nearly every day. I finally have a safe, calm environment so that I can become stronger and work at my mental health recovery. For the first time in a long time, I feel optimistic about my future."
Linda Buddle, Member since June 1992
"Over the nearly 30 years that I have been a member, I have lived in a variety of places. GAC colleagues have helped me in so many ways with housing. I will name a few of those ways: Pam Weisser (l-r: Linda and Pam) always reads my lease agreements and informs me of my responsibilities as a tenant. Rick Knight and other colleagues have driven me to see apartments, and have accompanied me to rent them because I didn't want to do that alone. Rick and his crew have rented, loaded up and unloaded U-Hauls for me several times. I am not lonely because GAC is always there to help me--with jobs, housing, benefits, whatever I need help with. My GAC friends have offered me support in every area of my life, including housing. They prevent me from feeling alone."
Kevin Ellis, Member since August 2013
"I was chronically homeless for years. After obtaining transitional housing, I was told about Grand Avenue Club. I walked through the doors in 2013. I never knew my life would change so much through the support I received from my colleagues and the coping skills that I learned by working side by side with people.

In recent years, I've gotten a lot of assistance from GAC with renewing my housing vouchers and securing safe places to live.

There are no words to adequately express how important it is to have a safe place to go home to. It has allowed me to love myself and believe in myself and other people too. GAC offers me great food, friends, a strong community, daily support, even when things are not necessarily perfect, and has helped me create GAC as a home away from home and my apartment as my very own home."
Although it is sometimes challenging to find safe and affordable housing, for our members, GAC remains committed to doing so.

The Colleagues of Grand Avenue Club