Alex Guryan has plans: He’s starting a new job in October, moving into an apartment, and expects to eventually move up to a better job.
“I don’t think that’s unreasonable,” he said.
His personal history would suggest otherwise. Alex, 25, has held good jobs before, but each time, health issues would get in the way. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, anxiety, and PTSD, he has been in acute treatment 12 times. After four months as a member of Gateway House, he’s optimistic about the future.
“This is the best treatment I’ve ever had,” he said. “I enjoy being a productive member of society, setting goals, and meeting them. I’m very happy that I joined this team.”
The team-like approach is what sets Gateway House apart from other treatment options for people living with chronic, long-term mental-health conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. In addition to medical and psychiatric services, members have a place where they belong, with opportunities for friendship, meaningful work, education, and housing.
“We listen to our members, and safe, affordable housing was something they told us they needed,” said Randy Redlinger, executive director of Gateway House. “Gateway owns 70 apartments with varying levels of support; about 70 percent of our members live independently.”
Members work alongside staff to shop for, prepare, and serve lunch; manage a snack bar; and operate a member bank. A clerical unit records daily information to document the program’s effectiveness in monthly reports and handles all billing. Members also produce a daily television show and monthly newsletter. Everyone is busy, but no one is too busy to greet visitors with a smile and a confident handshake.
With confidence buoyed by social acceptance and skills learned in their clubhouse roles, many members find transitional employment through Gateway’s partnership with local businesses, then seek employment elsewhere. Even members who are living and working independently are welcome at the clubhouse for social interaction.
“I believe this open-door policy helps members meet their life goals, knowing they have a safe place to come back to,” Redlinger said.
Gateway House follows the clubhouse model, which originated in 1948 in New York. Just four years after its 1984 founding, it had become a model for other communities, and to date has hosted 2,115 colleagues from around the world who come for a two- or three-week training experience.
Snapshots of smiling members, captured at happy moments through the years, fill scores of framed collages that line the walls of the existing facility, comprising two stately homes that were joined together decades ago and expanded as needs grew. The need continues to grow.
“Gateway serves 225 members annually, but we could do much more,” Redlinger said. “We hope to break ground soon on a 20,000-square-foot clubhouse on property we have purchased across the street,” Redlinger said.
To fund the building, Gateway launched a $5 million capital campaign, From Shadows to Light: Building Greenville’s Gateway to Dignity and Hope, which has raised nearly $4 million already. The Community Foundation committed $100,000 towards the campaign. Greenville Women Giving, a special initiative of the Community Foundation, also made a $100,000 grant in May 2018.
“Gateway’s evidence-based model has a long track record of successfully giving people the opportunity to achieve their full potential,” said Bob Morris, Community Foundation of Greenville president. “Mental health care is underfunded no matter where you live, so we are happy to support this amazing resource we have right here in Greenville.”