By Lori Hill, executive director, Friendship Place
Too often individuals with mental health conditions isolate out of fear as well as lack of income (Social Security Disability Insurance is often their only source of income). As an organization that serves individuals with mental illness, Friendship Place wanted to do more to help these adults form a healing connection with people that support their recovery and wellness within the context of culture and community.
“Before finding Friendship Place, I isolated from the outside world. I was afraid of everyone’s judgment because I was mentally ill.” Community Engagement Program participant
Our Community Engagement Program is a strengths-based program offering community engagement opportunities at least twice per month, completely coordinated and implemented by our professional staff. A $6,500 grant from the Community Impact Fund within the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation has helped to minimize the financial barrier to participation by offsetting transportation, event and activity costs.
Engagement goes beyond traditional medical goals of symptom reduction and functioning to include wellness and connection to family, friends, community, faith, school and work. The benefits of being included and connected to a community offer rewards that extend beyond simply networking with others. Bonding in groups helps maintain physical and mental health. Engaging in collaborative experiences with like-minded individuals has been closely tied to positive health behaviors.
One participant shares, “Friendship Place has given me a new lease on life. The outings we go on make me more comfortable in social areas. My favorite outing was playing miniature golf. I think that experience made us bond more with each other.”
To date, our participants have enjoyed an exotic animals presentation, a trip to the Neville Museum, miniature golf at On the Fringe, Menominee Park Day, and a day at Pollock Community Water Park. Our upcoming events include: NEW Zoo, a day at the orchard, and a day trip to Camp Onaway!