Random Acts of Kindness: Honolulu Clubhouse

Denise Tamala
Denise Tamala

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's a training ground, a coffee house, a stage, and a home.  It is a safe haven, where people who live with mental illness can flourish.

"Over here, we cry, we laugh, we party, and we celebrate" says Clubhouse Director Denise Tamala.

Welcome to the "Honolulu Clubhouse" near downtown, where Hawaii's "stable" mentally ill have a place to gather, and rebuild their lives by being around those who understand them the most: each other.

"Coming to the clubhouse, you can see the members are more humble.  They know when members come in, they will go right next to that member and say, 'hey, I've been there, I've done that.  This is what we can do today.  This is what we can focus on.'"
Five staff members help train members in clerical work, cooking, and janitorial skills.  Impressively, businesses such as Walmart, Jani-king, Petland, and Sudexho hire clubhouse members when they're ready.

"Once you come everyday, and you learn, and you're learning coping skills, or you're learning everyday living skills to improve quality of life, the members that been here on a daily basis will start to mentor the other members who are just starting."

There are some 200 so-called "members" at the Honolulu clubhouse and about 40-to-50 visit on any given day.  It is those daily visits that are the key to their success.

"If you have 200 members, and 5 staff members, you know the membership is running the program.   So the staff is only here to assist, make sure there's no trouble, make sure we have the right people in the program, and to make sure we can assist with anything then need. But it is the membership that runs the whole clubhouse."

"I love my job. I love the membership and I love what the clubhouse is doing for the community."