A fundraising gala at Uptown’s At the Pointe raised $600,000 to help bring a Clubhouse International facility to the Victoria area. Photo submitted

Gala raises $600,000 for mental health facility for Greater Victoria

The dream of a new Greater Victoria facility to serve those living with mental illness became a step closer to reality following a fundraising dinner in Saanich earlier this month.

A fundraising gala at Uptown’s At the Pointe raised $600,000 to help bring a Clubhouse International facility to the Victoria area.

“In all my experience as a patient in a psychiatric hospital, structuring my life, and seeing what many of my peers in my support group are needing to get back into life, this is the ticket,” said Bruce Saunders, who along with his wife made a $50,000 donation to the cause. “We, in our retirement, instead of a lot travel destinations, have a burning bucket list desire to see a vibrant Clubhouse option in our city.”

The gala also witnessed a $500,000 anonymous donation from an organization that sees a Clubhouse International program as the best solution for those living with mental illness.

“For years we have worked and dreamed about having a Clubhouse for our family members and loved ones” said Jackie Powell, chair of Connections Place Society. “Finally we will be able to open Connections Place where people with mental illness will be accepted, embraced, and supported with all aspects of their lives. Dreams do come true.”

There are now more than 300 Clubhouse facilities throughout the world, offering a rehabilitation program for those dealing with issues such as depression, bipolar and schizophrenia.

“Everything is under one roof – employment, education, housing, social – guiding people through social inclusion to lead happy and productive lives,” said Powell, who estimates $1.5 million is needed to fund the first three years of operation for the facility.

“It includes everything, the rent, staff, training, everything. It sounds like a lot of money, but when you consider what it can do, it’s worth the price.”

She points to estimates that indicate mental illness costs the Greater Victoria economy $600 million annually. Acute care beds can cost up to $1,500 a day, and on average, 68 patients are readmitted to psychiatric emergency services within 28 days.

“Pathways has a societal return on investment of 14 to 1. Every $1 invested in their clubhouse, it saves society $14,” said Powell.