June Sams responded with a one-word answer when asked for the secret of
Providence House's success.
Sams went on to describe her own experience with the clubhouse. "I
was very depressed and spent a lot of time sitting at home in my
bathrobe." She didn't want to go to a day-hospital program and was
reluctant at first when a social worker at a local hospital suggested
"My husband told me, `Your insecurities are showing,'" she
But Sams soon undertook progressively more difficult responsibilities at
the clubhouse. She began with the daily newsletter and recently was asked to
compile the monthly and annual reports that document use and activities at the
clubhouse. A self-described "computerphobic" upon her arrival, she
now fills in spreadsheets.
Sams also contributes in ways that express her creative nature and interest
in different cultures. She reenacts historical figures at various holidays
throughout the year at Horizon House events and is a member of the
organization's Cultural Diversity Council.
"You learn how to live and go forward," she said. "You
learn how to live with your problems."
Sams emphasized that those lessons apply to everyone, not only to clubhouse
members. She participates in the NAMI Walk each year to make a public
statement that people with mental illness look like everyone else.
After two years at Providence House and a period in a supported-education
program, Sams is ready to go forward. Her goal is to get a full-time job as a
peer specialist at Horizon House.