Clubhouse and Bangor Savings Bank, an unlikely pair…

Clubhouse Works…side by side with Bangor Savings Bank

“A Win-Win” is what President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank, Bob Montgomery-Rice, calls the partnership between Unlimited Solutions Clubhouse and Bangor Savings Bank.  An unlikely pair, a small non-profit health program focusing on helping people with severe mental illness and one of the biggest banks in New England, recently became neighbors on the Bangor Waterfront.  However, before they were neighbors, they were partners in giving people opportunities to work.

In October of 2012, Unlimited Solutions Clubhouse opened its doors on Summer Street in Bangor and started to provide services including working with people to help them recover from mental illness and return to productive lives in the community including support with employment, education and wellness. According to Clubhouse International, “A Clubhouse is organized to support people living with mental illness. During the course of their participation in a Clubhouse, members gain access to opportunities to rejoin the worlds of friendships, family, employment and education, and to the services and support they may individually need to continue their recovery. A Clubhouse provides a restorative environment for people whose lives have been severely disrupted because of their mental illness, and who need the support of others who are in recovery and who believe that mental illness is treatable.”

Carrie Lemos, Executive Director of Unlimited Solutions Clubhouse, has often said that she “dreams of a day when we no longer have to differentiate between mental illness and physical illness.  A world where we can discuss wellness as a whole person and there is not the stigma that comes with having depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.  A world where when someone that has depression, and has to be seen at the hospital, gets ‘Get Well’ packages and people come visit them as they would if they were diagnosed with cancer or had a heart attack. The partnership with Bangor Savings Bank has started to break down these barriers in the Bangor community.”

Mr. Montgomery-Rice agreed to serve on the Unlimited Solutions Clubhouse Advisory Board and provide input into the growth of the program.  Shortly after that in 2014, Mr. Montgomery-Rice was named CEO of Bangor Savings Bank.   In late 2016, the Clubhouse’s employment program was starting to take off and they were looking to increase community partnerships.  Bob’s ideas were integral to growing employment opportunities.  This same year, Unlimited Solutions Clubhouse was chosen to be the Non-Profit partner for Bangor Region Leadership Institute (BRLI) where they were introduced to Kimberly Stewart, Customer Experience Research Analyst, for Bangor Savings Bank.  Kimberly and the BRLI class worked on developing resources and a plan to reach out to community businesses to form partnerships for the unique Transitional Employment Program the Clubhouse offers.

Transitional Employment is a highly structured opportunity for members returning to work.  Transitional Employment placements are at the employer’s place of business, are part-time (15-20 hours per week), and are paid directly to the member by the employer.   These placements generally last from six to nine months. Clubhouse staff provide support on and off the job based on the member’s needs. Members

can then try another placement or move on to independent employment. “Transitional Employment is specifically designed as a vocational rehabilitation program where a member can gain or re-gain the skills and confidence necessary to have a job while he or she is employed in a “real world” position. The only requirement for the member to participate in Transitional Employment is the expressed desire to work.”- Clubhouse International

Through the development of these relationships (a key concept of Clubhouses), the Clubhouse and Bangor Savings Bank started working closely together.  Two Bangor Savings Bank employees joined the Clubhouse Advisory Board and then, the two companies forged into an employment partnership in the Fall  2017 –  starting with two temporary positions in the Payroll Department to assist with the Holiday and Tax Seasons.  Bangor Savings Bank found these employees so beneficial that they kept them on and they became supported employment positions.  Supported Employment offers similar support to members of Clubhouse as Transitional Employment, however is not time limited and does not offer covered absence.  As time went on, Bangor Savings Bank announced plans to move to the Bangor Waterfront and started working on what positions would need to be added in order to help with the operations of the new location at 11 Hamlin Way.  Dora Young, a Human Resource Generalist at Bangor Savings Bank, was the bridge between the Clubhouse and Bangor Savings Bank.  She would organize tours and meet and greets at the Clubhouse with Department Managers of the Bank to introduce them to the concept of Clubhouse.  Each person that came to tour the Clubhouse was gracious and went away with thoughts of how their department might benefit from working with the Clubhouse.  The Clubhouse colleagues (members and staff) participated in tours and education of what a Clubhouse does.  They looked at job descriptions, spoke to managers, and worked out what would work best for positions for both the bank and the Clubhouse.

Currently, Bangor Savings Bank employs five Clubhouse members, three (3) Transitional Employment (TE) positions and two (2) Supportive Employment (SE) positions in a variety of departments.  The unlikely pair is also working on the development of a group Transitional Employment placement this summer for Waterfront Concert Parking.  This project will allow members to get paid for attending the parking garage at Bangor Savings Bank.   The proceeds of the parking will be distributed across a variety of Non-Profit agencies in the Bangor area.   Kim Burgess, Heather Turner and Carrie Lemos, the job placement managers from the Clubhouse, are often seen supporting the members of Clubhouse at Bangor Savings Bank and are welcomed into the environment.  They welcome questions from employees about programming, mental health and working with mental illness.

Partnerships such as the one between Bangor Savings Bank and Unlimited Solutions Clubhouse start to bridge the gap between receiving services and being part of a thriving business and a productive member of our community.   The Wall St. Journal printed an article in 1990 that described an employment partnership with a Clubhouse as “A good deed that can be a good deal”.  This description still holds true.

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