RUMSON, NJ — Susan Sandlass, founder of the Shore Clubhouse, has announced the organization’s inaugural fundraiser, to be held at Rumson’s Bingham Hall on May 1. Shore Clubhouse is modeled after New York’s successful Fountain House and highlights psycho-social rehabilitation and recovery. The International Center for Clubhouse Development (ICCD) oversees the quality of the program through certification to assist those living with mental illnesses to work together to lead fulfilling, productive lives in their communities.

Sandlass, in collaboration with a Board of Trustees, is bringing Shore Clubhouse to be the Monmouth County’s first ICCD-certified Clubhouse, to the Red Bank metro area to service those living with serious mental illnesses throughout Monmouth County.

The event, scheduled for Sunday, May 1 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., at Bingham Hall (40 Bingham Ave.), Rumson, will feature a cocktail reception followed by a compelling presentation detailing how the Shore Clubhouse will benefit the mentally ill and their families in the region.

As the mother of a child with bipolar disorder, Sandlass will talk about her personal journey of working with the International Center for Clubhouse Development to increase the number of Clubhouses in the world and provide advocacy as well as her desire to introduce a Clubhouse much closer to her own home, where it currently does not exist.

“When seeking assistance for my daughter, I found our region sorely lacking for specific transitional services,” Sandlass recounts. “I visited the ICCD in New York where I was introduced to the Clubhouse concept at Fountain House. My daughter was fortunate to become a member of Fountain House, and I became a member of the board for the ICCD. From the very beginning, my goal was to bring this Clubhouse to our area.”

According to the ICCD website (, “Mental illness IS treatable. Those who have it can regain their mental health, but not with medication alone. The emergence of Clubhouses in many communities in the United States as well as countries around the world are demonstrating that people with mental illness can successfully participate in society through education, employment and other social activities. ICCD Clubhouses offer people who have mental illness hope and opportunities to achieve their full potential.”

Sandlass began her quest by holding community information gatherings in July 2008, to engender support. In only one month, she had formed a working group that began to lay the foundation necessary to move this project forward. With the assistance of Judy and Bud Rose of Lindabery Law Firm, Shore Clubhouse became incorporated and a board of trustees was formed. The organization became a registered 501c3 in July 2010. In November 2010, Shore Clubhouse received the first-stage of a potential multi-year grant, “and now we continue to seek necessary private funding,” Sandlass says.

As its next step, Shore Clubhouse intends to begin holding twice weekly meetings for members at Lunch Break in Red Bank. At Shore Clubhouse, members have a place where they instantly belong and benefit from side-by-side support; the members run the clubhouse from a bottom-up model, instead of top down. There are paid staff members to assist, and it is a place for those who belong to derive invaluable self-worth through mutual support and productivity, increasing skills that allow for steady competitive employment.

Sandlass adds, “One in four people you encounter in any given situation has someone close to them that lives with a mental illness. The Clubhouse model not only helps them regain their lives, but studies from the Center for Clubhouse Research at U Mass prove that involvement in a Clubhouse actually reduces the number of hospitalizations as well as incarcerations. Shore Clubhouse intends to be actively involved in helping to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness.”

Through Shore Clubhouse, people living with mental illness Can and Do:

  • Regain their self worth and self confidence
  • Restart their lives
  • Recover and develop new skills
  • Reintegrate back into their communities, through employment, education and service
  • Realize their potential

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...