'Clubhouse' provides jobs for adults with mental illnesses
One San Antonio man believes he knows what could have prevented shootings in Colorado, Arizona and Virginia: a simple program aimed at adults with mental illness.
Mark Stoeltje is the executive director of the program, called the Clubhouse.
“This is a population that folks have basically given up on, they're ignored, or there’s a tremendous stigma," Stoeltje said.
They have never had a violent incident. Members run everything from the front desk to the social calendar.
And for people like Stephanie Leslie, the Clubhouse has been a lifeline.
"There’s been actual times I actually wanted to commit, like, suicide and things like that, but now I actually feel like I'm worth living life for," a woman named Leslie said.
The Clubhouse caters to adults diagnosed with some type of severe mental illness.
Royce Griffin says he has faced the stigma of having a mental illness.
"The misconceptions that people have about mental health is that, you know, we are not smart, that we have to be babied 24/7 and that's just not the truth," he said.
There’s no therapy -- just friendships -- and as a result, the employees and the members of the Clubhouse are tough to tell apart.
"We're really centered around those two things: meaningful relationships and meaningful work," Stoeltje said.
The Clubhouse has been in San Antonio for nine years. In that time they have 491 members, and they’ve done it all without a dime of taxpayer money.
"Yet we're offering a place that keeps people healthy, helps people go back to work, keeps them out of the hospital," Stoeltje said.
Stoeltje also believes these programs are invaluable in changing stereotypes and perhaps stopping trouble in places like Colorado, Virginia, and Arizona.
"Those kinds of things could have been prevented. These are not guys that just snapped, this built up over time, I'm certain," Stoeltje said.
Part of the reason the Clubhouse doesn't use state money is because it's not there to use.
Texas ranks last in state funding for mental health programs.
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