By Jen Egan
On June 28, Shore House cut the ribbon on their newly renovated Clubhouse in Long Branch. In a matter of 100 days, the 2022 grantee transformed its Clubhouse from functional, but deficient, to amazing! Its members, who are adults living with mental illness, can enjoy expanded programming for social education and employment opportunities that its upgraded facilities can now provide.
Shore House opened in 2010 with one member, one day a week, in borrowed space in Red Bank. In the past two years, the Clubhouse has seen its daily attendance almost double. In the absence of any state funding and the only Clubhouse providing a continuum of this type of care in New Jersey, Shore House has been challenged to keep up financially with this growth.
In 2022, Shore House received a grant from the American Rescue Plan Act of Monmouth County to complete a necessary renovation of its Clubhouse. Combined with the funding from Impact, Shore House was able to finish its kitchen and furnishings in program spaces.
“This wonderful, commercial-grade kitchen that we have now was entirely paid for by the Impact 100 Jersey Shore grant,” said Rich Ambrosino, Executive Director of Shore House. “This will enable our members who work in the culinary unit to create member-run businesses.”
“As in a home, the kitchen is the heart of the Clubhouse,” said founding Board Member Cathy Smith. “The benefits of having a commercial-grade kitchen will allow members to gather to make and serve meals, including on all the holidays.”
Furthermore, with the new culinary unit, members are now able to participate and get credit in the ServSafe course where they learn nutrition and cooking skills. This qualifies them with a transferable skill to add to their resume, which will benefit them in finding sustainable employment.
Its beautiful new structure also provides sustainability to the Shore House mission – to empower and restore hope, independence and self worth for people living with a mental illness – as well as its model. Run as a Clubhouse, members take accountability toward implementing all aspects of the program. Referred to as the Work Order Day, this voluntary program has members finding recovery through meaningful work done side-by-side with their peers.
“We tell our members to leave their diagnoses at the door,” said Bailey Taft, Program Director. “We value them as people versus their mental illness.”
Taft also points out that there is a ripple effect from Impact’s funding of the new kitchen, which meets health department food storage standards. Now Shore House can partner with organizations like FulFill and Lunch Break to accept food donations, offsetting some of the kitchen’s operational costs. This is significant for an organization that is over 90% funded by private donations and grants.
Ambrosino is particularly excited to demonstrate to legislators the full extent to which community-based mental health care via the Clubhouse model can improve the lives of people living with serious mental illness. “Having legislators and decision makers come through here and see our work in action will go a long way,” he said. With nearly two million people in New Jersey living with serious mental illness, Ambrosino is advocating that our leaders act now, while the legislature is setting priorities for the upcoming state budget, to invest in new solutions.
Read more about Ambrosino’s call to action for a new approach to mental healthcare in his Op-ed with Amy Kennedy of the Kennedy Forum, published this weekend on PBS’s NJ Spotlight News.
Health & Wellness
To empower and restore hope, independence and self-worth for people living with a mental illness by providing access to social, education and employment opportunities.
Funding to support the renovation and expansion of the Club house for adults living with mental illness.