HUDSON — Vincent House in Pasco is here to help individuals with a mental illness return to work with dignity by providing a recovery through work program. It recently celebrated opening its doors to the community one year ago.

The program is available to individuals who may need to depend on it for a long-term basis or short-term. There are no end dates once you join Clubhouse. It’s a lifetime membership, said Vincent House Pasco Director Elizabeth Statzer.

The purpose of the work program is to build up members’ endurance, confidence and job-readiness skills by participating from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, engaging in work either in the kitchen, visual communications unit or other area. Additionally, Vincent House can help members find employment in the community, as well as provide transitional employment to help fill that gap individuals may have on their resumes.

“Many of our members have been told they’re never going to work again because of their mental illness,” Statzer said. “We want to help them find recovery through the meaningful activity of clubhouse and employment. If there’s any silver lining in the pandemic, I think it’s brought mental health to the forefront in a way that it hasn’t before.”

Mental illness is a highly isolative disease, and one of the benefits of coming to the clubhouse is that individuals learn to make friends, Statzer explained. She added that through the pandemic, she hopes people will talk about mental health in a different way and that someday there may be less stigma around it.

Transitional employment is a unique program to clubhouse, as staff develop job placement with a community employer in any field. The Pasco nonprofit has developed its first transitional employment with a doctor’s office. Jobs are entry-level, not because an individual aren’t talented, Statzer said, but to give them an opportunity to ease into work when one hasn’t been employed in years.

Members participate in the transitional employment for six to nine months, and no interview is required, as Vincent House staff will fit the member to the right job. Staff will also learn the job, provide on-the-job training, and go to work with the individual for a week or two. If the member has to call in sick, Vincent House will provide staff to fill in the job.

At the end of the end of program, members can choose to return to the clubhouse or go back to school, and another member will be employed.

“The goal of Vincent House in not just the recovery through work but the hope of recovery, clubhouse is an international model, it’s evidence-based,” Statzer said. “When you see people join clubhouse, you see decreased rates of hospitalization and incarceration, increased long-term employment and less reliance on public benefits.”

Vincent House is funded through state programs, such as DCF managing the entity and substance abuse mental health service system, community development block grants through Pasco County, vocational rehabilitation and private donors. The 9,000-square-foot facility sits on three acres of land, accompanied by a community garden that grows food for the kitchen. The nonprofit has a remaining seven acres, which Statzer said leaders plan to eventually build housing for its clubhouse members.

Housing would be another benefit for individuals looking to gain independence as their confidence grows in their employment. It would also be a relief for them not to worry about the climbing prices of rent and housing in the county.