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.

2018 Year in Review

January 1, 2019-

On the first day of the new year, I like to look back and reflect on the progress and the lessons learned over the past year. I do this personally and for the Clubhouse as well. This post is going to be a bit longer than our usual posts. 2018 was a year of change and more importantly growth at Unlimited Solutions. For some of us change is difficult and we have worked through the changes and for others of us, change comes with excitement at the possibilities that are about to come.

We saw people leave the Clubhouse community this year, some because they have pursued their dreams and we wish them the best of luck in their journeys and others have passed too soon and we will miss their smiles but remember lessons they bring to us each day.

We have seen change at the Clubhouse:
*We finished the InSHAPE Study through Dartmouth Hitchcock and some of our members had great personal gains in weight loss and health. We made the decision to incorporate the things we learned through this study into our work ordered day and the wellness programming back into unit work, instead of having a staff dedicated to personal training. All of our staff have been able to learn and can help members through their wellness journeys. Classes are held each day and members can go to staff or other members for support with their wellness questions and goals.
*For the first time, we saw staff pursue their own dreams and goals that took them away from working daily at our Clubhouse. Luckily, we have been able to keep in contact with Casey, Angela and Dani and our circle grows by adding Jesse, Chris, Theresa and Alyssa to our team. Jesse, Chris, Theresa and Alyssa bring different talents and skills to our Clubhouse. We have been able to take the lessons that Dani, Angela and Casey taught us and now started to expand by learning new things from our new colleagues.
*We attended training at a different training base in South Carolina, Gateway Clubhouse. At Gateway, we focused on developing a strong work ordered day and brought back creative ideas such as incorporating new media projects into the work ordered day and re-designing our newsletter to reach the community.
*Our employment partners continue to grow as we added Bangor Savings Bank, HW Staffing and Chick-fil-a to our already existing list of rock star partners. Without the businesses in the community that we partner with to provide employment opportunities through our transitional and supportive employment programs, we would not be nearly as successful as we are. Currently 62 of our 219 members are competitively employed in the community. This is 28% of our membership as compared with only 7.4% of the population in Maine with Severe Mental Illness (according to Kaiser Health News).

So, we have seen change at the Clubhouse this year. We have grown! Change and growth take us out of our comfort zone sometimes. Luckily, we have the support of all our colleagues as we “adjust our sails” and grow some more. As we have been told many times, “The magic happens outside of our comfort zone.”

Benjamin Franklin once said “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” So, thank you for all your hard work, effort and growth this year. Here is to making 2019 our best year yet at the Clubhouse.

-Carrie Lyn Lemos, OTR/L, CEAS

Executive Director

Unlimited Solutions Clubhouse Chosen as Non Profit Partner for BRLI


BANGOR – The Bangor Region Leadership Institute (BRLI), an intensive, regionally-oriented leadership development program, is pleased to announce the members of the Class of 2017.

This year’s participants will be Michelle Beal, Beal College; Jeremy Clay, City of Bangor Community Connector; Michael Cormier, UBS Financial; Brian Cotlar, Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce; Tom Dorrity, TD Bank; Karen-Ann Ellis, Maine Savings Federal Credit Union; Jenny Gage, Wings for Children and Family; Scott Harvey, Katahdin Area Boy Scouts; Kristen Hickmon, Lowe’s Home Improvement; Alaina Jacobs, Downeast Toyota; Ami Johnson, EMHS; Thomas Lasko, Jr., Emera Maine; Veronica Levesque, Maine Savings Federal Credit Union; Rebecca Liberty, Redeemer Lutheran Church; Amanda Martin, Somic America; Paula Matlins, Maine Career Connect; Megan Muth, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital; Kathryn Ravenscraft; United Way of Eastern Maine; Gretchen Schaefer, Husson University; Melissa Scott, EMHS; Melissa Smith, Happy Endings Martini & Dessert Bar; Kimberly Stewart, Bangor Savings Bank; Josh Whalen, Epstein Properties; Paige Wilcox, Wilcox Wellness; Emily Woodbury, Changing Seasons FCU; and Brianna Woodworth, EMMC.

BRLI is held every fall through spring in nine separate, day-long sessions, each of which takes place at a different location in the Bangor region based on the day’s theme. The curriculum includes a dynamic array of presenters chosen based on expertise, leadership capacity, community commitment, and communication skills. BRLI is designed to give potential and emerging leaders the skills, knowledge and on-going support they need to succeed in the greater Bangor community.

Each class also works closely with a local nonprofit to further develop the leadership skills fundamental to the BRLI experience. The nonprofit selected for this year’s partnership with the class is Unlimited Solutions Clubhouse, an affiliate of Penobscot Community Health Care.  The mission of Unlimited Solutions Clubhouse is to “improve the health and well being of people with mental illness in the Bangor community by creating opportunities around wellness, education, and employment.”

Thursday, October 6th marks the first class day with the Annual Alumni Breakfast kicking off the year on Friday October 7th at Hollywood Casino. This is a great opportunity for alumni to catch up, meet the incoming class, and give them a warm welcome into the program. The keynote address will be given by General Doug Farnham, Adjutant General, Maine National Guard.  Those interested in attending should visit for tickets.

BRLI is a program of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce. For more information, please contact the Chamber at 207-947-0307.”- Copied with permission from BRLI Blog