Clubhouse International’s World Seminar 2022 was held in person at the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront Hotel from September 17-22.

Grand Avenue Club sent 2 colleagues: Jenna Houillon (pictured on the right), Culinary Unit leader, and Brenda Bauer (pictured on the left), an active member of our Retail & Business Management Unit to the conference. We were confident that these colleagues would bring back to GAC good ideas that we could use for strategic planning.

Here's what Brenda had to say about her experience:

"I first heard about the International Seminar when a group of us were breakfast in the Culinary Unit. Our Executive Director, Rachel Forman, was aware of my interest and approached me the next day. She asked me if I was interested in going. I was apprehensive at first because I had never flown on a plane before, and I knew there would be many people there. However, my colleagues encouraged me and I decided to go. I enjoy my work at Grand Avenue Club, and it feels good to contribute to things on a daily basis to our community each day. I was intrigued by the idea of meeting people from other Clubhouses and learning from them.

I well always be proud of how well I did with flying- it wasn't even that bad! Each day at the seminar had a similar structure. We ate breakfast together; everyone would attend plenaries with the whole group; then break into smaller groups for morning and afternoon workshops.

I enjoyed the "Telling Your Story" and "Bringing Wellness Activities into the Clubhouse" workshops. The plenary on "Why the Work Ordered Day" was especially exciting to me because I got to learn things and ideas from other Clubhouses about their approach to unit work. I was very impressed by the togetherness and dedication to the Clubhouse model.

Attending the conference impressed me with how we are all working to provide opportunities for one another. Regardless of where Clubhouses are located we all encourage or colleagues, share our stories and exchange ideas. The most important thing is that we don't allow a mental illness to define a person. I found meeting people from all over the world extraordinary and exciting."

Here is what Jenna had to say about her experience:

"At the end of 2019, Rachel Forman asked me and asked me whether I was interested in going to the 2020 Clubhouse International Seminar in Salt Lake City. I took this as a sign of her confidence in me as a unit leader. I was not only excited to visit a new city, but to experience the international Clubhouse community in a way that I never had before. Unfortunately, the in-person was cancelled. I remember feeling really sad that I wasn’t able to go and participate in something that I had heard such great things about from colleagues who have previously attended a seminar.

Fortunately, the opportunity resurfaced this year and I did not hesitate in saying "yes." Grand Avenue Club follows the tradition of sending both a staff and member. I knew right away that I wanted to go with Brenda because we have been working together often, and she is consistently and passionately involved in Clubhouse discussions and operations. We began preparing ourselves to open our minds to the insightful plenaries and workshops, and the new connections we would make with people from around the world.

Once we got to Baltimore, I was overwhelmed by how many people were there, but I knew immediately that I was surrounded by Clubhouse enthusiasts. The first day set the tone for the rest of the seminar. I was moved by the many inspiring speeches from other staff and members. With each shared perspective, I felt a deeper appreciation for Clubhouse and why I continue to participate in ensuring the success of Grand Avenue Club and its members. The following days I spent every minute absorbing all that I learned and was excited about bringing new ideas back to Milwaukee.

The entire experience and the feelings that came along with it were wonderful. however I am grateful for the opportunity and I look forward to working my colleagues to create an action plan that will contribute to the growth and success of our community."

Jenna Houillon and Brenda Bauer at Clubhouse International World Seminar closing ceremony, Baltimore Maryland, 2022.

The display of flags of the countries in which Clubhouses are located inspired everyone at the seminar immediately upon their arrival.

Robby Vorspan, a founder and leader of the Clubhouse movement, delivered a compelling speech at the Seminar.

Grand Avenue Club

The Colleagues of Grand Avenue Club