On the eve of its 20th anniversary, the Rising Sun Clubhouse is preparing to host an open house mid-February to reintroduce itself to the community.
The clubhouse, which is in its 19th year as a part of the community and turning 20 next September, has tentacles reaching into many aspects of the community, but manager Amanda Henderson feels it’s tucked away in its own corner and being glossed over by those who have become complacent with its practices and remains a mystery to newcomers to town who don’t know its purpose.
“We’re a living skills resource for those living with severe and persistent mental illness,” said Henderson. Rising Sun currently has a little over 100 members.
The non-profit organization plans on handing out information to residents and businesses about the services it provides to Ponoka during the open house.
The clubhouse employs a work program for members wishing to participate, including a recycling program and bottle pick up.
“This (recycling) is a private endeavor, we’re not contracted to do so.” Henderson says the Town of Ponoka lends its support by allowing the program to use its station.
The recycling program started as a Blue Box program in 1996 and grew from there. “Oh God, it was so small,” Henderson remembered with a laugh.
What started as an informal drop-in program has grown into a structured four days a week and every second Friday. The Blue Box continues for one and a half of those days while the remaining time is cardboard pick up.
The bottle pick up program employs two members and services the Ponoka Golf Club, Alberta Health Resources as well as other businesses around town. Each working member makes minimum wage.
As a manager, Henderson says she’s worked alongside members in each of their jobs—from the recycle trailer to the bottle sorting room—and says the jobs are tough and the work harder than most people realize. “For most of them, it is the customer relation that is the pride for them, because they know what this means for their community.”
The Rising Sun Clubhouse also serves meals Monday to Friday for $6 and at a special rate for members; Henderson says they never turn away guests stopping by for a visit and a shared meal. Every Wednesday Bob Hepp cooks for the clubhouse as he has been doing for the past 10 years. “We’re very fortunate to have him. He does a lot for the clubhouse,” said Henderson.
Because of his extensive knowledge in the kitchen, Henderson says he has further extended his services to the clubhouse by taking over the grocery shopping. “Whenever he comes over we have a little Bob To Do List.”
Henderson says the Rising Sun Clubhouse is looking at continuing opening up relationships in with the community and community mental health services, including the Centennial Centre, to de-segregate resources and provide the best level of care for members.
“We all work for the same goal,” she says, that goal being to support the members and those living with mental health issues to a sustained level of well-being.
Henderson stresses the Rising Sun Clubhouse is not a crisis centre but a stepping-stone and resource assistance for those in need. “I firmly believe we provide a safe place in the community.”