Brian Boswell had seen better days. From a troubled childhood with a background of drugs and alcohol starting at an unusually young age, to the diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Bi-polar and PTSD as an adult, he found himself floundering from Florida to South Carolina while in his 20's. At one point, Brian had been suicidal and amidst his self-destructive pattern, South Carolina literally handed him a ticket along with $20 in his pocket to leave the state. They informed him they had no assistance to help him with his mental illness and if he had anywhere at all to go, at least he would be off the streets.
In his journey, there remained much darkness, but; it only takes a tiny hole in a dark room to shed a glimmer of light. That was when Brian learned about a place where he could feel comfortable to be himself. A place where he didn't feel judged like he had felt in his previous years. More to his amazement, Brian saw others with similar issues thriving and joyously living life.
WHAT HAD HE STUMBLED UPON?
Brian was welcomed in at Key Clubhouse in Miami, Florida, and suddenly he was in a place where he found a sense of self worth and felt like he "fit in." He was now socializing with others and was recognized as a real person, not just someone who suffers with mental illness. After all, don't each of us desire to find a place in life where we don't feel judged or ridiculed? A place where we feel liked and admired. And to make life more joyous, the director of the clubhouse asked Brian what skills he was good at and what he enjoyed doing. Seriously? In a life where he had been handed a bus ticket and $20, he was now being asked what he enjoyed doing? The clubhouse wanted to know about him so they could place him in a position where he could feel valued. His response, "I went to culinary school for 9 months." In one instant it was like a life transformation! Brian spent his time in the kitchen working to help feed the other members and began a life filled with socialization and recreation.
Fast Forward to today.... Years have passed, Brian has gotten older and moved back to Louisiana where his mother resides, but in his heart, the days of the old clubhouse have remained. The camaraderie. The sense of being needed and valued. The feeling of "fitting in."
Those are only a few of the daily emotional challenges people struggling with mental illness face.
With one son holding a dream and a vision, and a mother who doesn't take no for an answer, they started their quest for the state of Louisiana to have it's first "Clubhouse Model," like the first clubhouse started in 1948 in New York City. Just like the clubhouse Brian enjoyed while in Miami.
It's been a long road and a longer road lies ahead to accomplish all their goals, but the journey has been worth it.
Many thanks to all the wonderful people who have helped along the way to make this desire of the heart come true. It must be noted, Brian and Clarice have been blessed with a variety of individuals pushing right alongside them. Be sure to stay tuned to learn about the Co-Founders and Volunteers as time passes. From a local Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Rachel Foreman, holding the reigns, to an attorney in Baton Rouge guiding with legal matters, and several other individuals who have diligently worked to make this dream a reality, FOCUS Clubhouse has finally come to fruition.