Healing with Community and Self-Guided Care: Easterseals MORC’s Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse

Sarah wearing a plaid shirt standing outside and smiling

Sarah, former participant at Easterseals MORC’s Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse

Sarah joined Easterseals MORC’s Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse in 2017 when she was struggling with her mental health, motivation, and socialization. “Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse has helped shape me into the person I have become by giving me different skills and helping me learn how to socialize,” Sarah said. “I have come out of my shell. I’ve learned how to cook. I have learned better communication skills.” 

Easterseals MORC’s Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse is a mental health rehabilitation program, overseen and accredited by Clubhouse International, a non-profit organization that helps start and grow Clubhouses globally.  

Based in Royal Oak, Michigan, Easterseals MORC’s Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse (DUC) provides individuals with mental illness the social tools and professional skills needed to become more independent. Their approach revolves around a “work-ordered day,” where participants and staff upkeep and run the Clubhouse side-by-side, deciding what needs to be done and what skills participants want to engage in together. Following Clubhouse International’s model of psychosocial rehabilitation, DUC provides a cooperative and nurturing setting where members can progress toward recovery by accessing opportunities for employment, social interaction, education, skill enhancement, housing, and enhanced well-being. 

Bridgette, a woman stands in front of a white board that says "I feel the clubhouse is the only place to meet people and help with your recovery. It is my favorite place to go!

Bridgette, Easterseals MORC’s Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse member

Since the work is self-directed by Clubhouse members, the activities they can do are countless. Some participants learn data processing, cooking, and management, while others engage in banking and planning social events. Social events are important for Clubhouse members as they foster relationship building, improve social skills, and provide meaningful community experiences.  

Jacob Warsaw, Clubhouse Generalist, facilitates the work-ordered day, focusing on new members and providing support to anyone who lacks confidence in their tasks. He works with individuals to create a fulfilling work environment that aligns with their personal goals, which boosts self-esteem. Jacob says, “Rooted in the notion that each person has a unique contribution to society, Clubhouses play a significant role in fostering self-assurance and breaking the cycle of social and economic isolation commonly linked with mental illness.”  

Members can be placed in paid work when they feel they are ready through the Clubhouse’s Transitional Employment Program. This places them in temporary, entry-level job positions that the Clubhouse has developed in partnership with community employers, rotating members every 6 to 9 months. 

Joining the Clubhouse is a straightforward process and ensures the dignity and choice of those who want to join. After touring the building and enrolling, members are introduced to the staff and can choose who to work with, directing their goals and success. “These goals are fluid, evolving, and can be changed or completed at the member’s own pace. With this, members can achieve their goals to no end, get jobs and eventually tone-down their attendance, or stay at a gradual pace. Members do monthly check-ins with their staff to hold themselves accountable to their chosen goals and have added pressure from within to improve,” Jacob adds. 

David stands in front of a whiteboard that reads "I like clubhouse because it expands my social network. Meeting new people and making new friends is a gift. I encourage people to come!

David, an Easterseals MORC’s Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse member

Through engaging with the program, Sarah was able to find steady work and get back into her love of photography. “Because of Easterseals MORC and Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse, I’m learning how to better cope when I’m having a hard time. I now cope by using positive thinking and affirmations. I’ve become more independent, experience more of what life has to offer, and understand my mental health.” 

Easterseals MORC’s Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse is always looking to engage new supporters and members of the community. Interested individuals can tour the Clubhouse and sign up to be on the Advisory board to contribute ideas; they can connect employers to DUC to be part of the Transitional Employment Program or sign up to be an expert speaker at a Clubhouse event.  

Jacob hopes to expand the conversation around Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse. “We are looking to educate people on Clubhouse and what psychosocial rehabilitation is, as well as increasing the number of people that we serve. We would love to have you here, no matter who you are!” 

To learn more about Dreams Unlimited Clubhouse and see how to get involved, visit the Easterseals MORC website. Thank you to Jake Warsaw, Lyndsey Shelby, and Heidi Vanderbeek at Easterseals MORC for their contributions to this blog post.  


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