By Judith Berman, member since 2018
As someone living with ambulatory issues, getting to the physical clubhouse prior to its closing was difficult. I have been a member of Fountain House for two years, and have only been to the clubhouse a handful of times. The combination of public transportation with the amount of preparation it takes to leave my house, like packing a bag, was exhausting for me. And when I would make it to Fountain House, I found myself watching the time – worried about an appointment I needed to get to, or about the trek home.
In March 2020, Fountain House temporarily shut its doors to protect staff and members from the coronavirus, and for the first time ever, the community transitioned to a virtual environment.
With support from staff and fellow members, I immediately engaged with the online platform, known as “Virtual Clubhouse”- a combination of Zoom, Slack and Facebook. There, I am able to connect and meet with members and staff to participate in different meetings and activities.
Because of Virtual Clubhouse I have a reason to wake up every day. Seeing familiar faces on a daily basis makes me feel connected, and reminds me I am not alone. I feel an immense sense of belonging, and activities like writing articles for the Fountain House Newspaper, participating in Health and Wellness research, and working with the Podcast Group brings productivity and purpose to my life.
The most exciting aspect of the Virtual Clubhouse for me is that I don’t need to leave my house to engage with the Fountain House community! Whenever the physical clubhouse opens again, I am pleased to know that if I am not feeling strong enough to travel, I can just turn on my smart phone and connect.