Every Thursday morning at 8:45 a.m. the Grand Avenue Club community gathers at the big table in our first floor Business & Retail Management Unit to discuss the International Standards for Clubhouse Programs, the foundational document of the hundreds of Clubhouses all over the world that are organized according to Clubhouse International's Clubhouse Model of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Every week a colleague will read aloud the powerful Preamble which states clearly that "the Standards are at the heart of the Clubhouse community's success in helping people with mental illness to achieve social, financial, educational and vocational goals." We will never tire of hearing that the Standards are a "bill of rights" for members and a code of ethics for staff, board and administrators.

Next week is a big week for Clubhouse colleagues everywhere. It is the week of the Clubhouse International World Seminar 2021. This entirely virtual seminar already has registered more than 1,000 attendees. Among them will be the members and staff of GAC, most of whom enthusiastically await the marvelous learning opportunities that we have come to associate with previous World Seminars.

One of the forums--which will be offered twice--THE CLUBHOUSE STANDARDS: Their Purpose, Their Past, and Their Power is being facilitated by Rachel Forman, our Executive Director. One of the 3 panelists is Serge Blasberg, a GAC member for the past 16 years. The other 2 panelists are from Independence Center in St. Louis, Missouri and Vail Place in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

To prepare for the forum, at our Thursday morning meeting, Serge posed these questions to attendees:

"Which of the Standards have had the most impact on your life? What role do the Standards have in the daily life of your Clubhouse?"

Here are some of the responses.
Yari Colby - Colleague since 2021
"I have learned so much in the 7 months I have been employed here at GAC. What I love most is that everything is decided and executed by members and staff working together. I had to actually experience this partnership to really understand it. I read about it in the literature about Clubhouse that I was given, but had to be directly involved in relationships here before I could appreciate its power."
Chris Sanchez - Colleague since 2021
"I have been a member since early August 2021 and have been here every day since I joined. I see GAC as an opportunity to learn and to develop as a person. When you are a person among your peers, you automatically feel more important because you are looking for a way to be valuable. Many of us have been searching for this feeling all of our lives."
Shelby Manuel - Colleague since 2000
"I have learned a lot from staff and members, but I want to talk about the staff here. They put me in a position to do a lot and to learn a lot. This place made me a better man and my life is still changing for the better. Many people who know me now would be shocked to learn what a bad boy I used to be. The minute I came through the doors of GAC, my life changed for the better."
Beth Warrington - Colleague since 1993
"I love Standard 3, which says that members choose what they want to do and that everything is voluntary. I love the work-ordered day, which changed my life. I also love the employment Standards, which are all about Clubhouse employment opportunities. The opportunities are here. Clubhouse is now a huge part of my identity. Mental illness no longer defines who I am. Now I have lots of positive energy. We're all sharing our gifts and I am grateful. I'm utilizing the opportunities every day. I love my new Transitional Employment job at 600 EAST Cafe. Please, come for lunch and I'll be the one to bring you your meal."
Serge Blasberg - Colleague since 2005
"I see the impact of the Standards on the lives of countless Clubhouse members throughout the world. I have visited Clubhouses in Israel, Norway, China, Finland, Russia, South Korea and throughout the U.S and Europe. I have participated in over 50 accreditation visits based on adherence to the fidelity of the Clubhouse Model expressed through the International Standards for Clubhouse Programs. Like many of my colleagues throughout the world, my Clubhouse community, GAC, has helped to save and enrich my life. I am so looking forward to next week's Clubhouse International World Seminar where all my friends and colleagues will gather together and learn from each other."
Rachel Forman - Executive Director since 1991
"I am so very proud to be part of the GAC community. The International Standards for Clubhouse Programs have had a profound impact on the shaping of GAC and on the lives of its members and staff--including its director-- over the years. It has been a privilege to witness and be part of the journeys of so many of our members. I will always be grateful to the State (of Wisconsin) Office of Behavioral (then "Mental") Health for sponsoring a Milwaukee conference on the Clubhouse Model. I will always be grateful to the late Rudyard n. Propst for his leadership in the development of the first version of the International Standards in October 1989 by (then) hundreds of our Clubhouse colleagues throughout the world."

The Colleagues of Grand Avenue Club