MADISON, Wis. — The mission of Yahara House is to transform the lives of people living with mental illness by creating a supportive and inclusive community.
Yahara House is part of Journey Mental Health Center. It’s built on the Clubhouse International model, which offers opportunities for friendship, employment, housing, education and psychiatric services for people with mental illness.
Spending days at Yahara House for the past 13 years has made a huge difference in Mark Suchanek’s life.
“We’re doing really well,” Suchanek said, as he reached for cherry tomatoes growing in the garden outside Yahara House. “It’s something constructive to do with our time, and it’s really a lot of fun.”
“Everybody has something to contribute,” said Elizabeth Gonzalez, who works at Yahara House as an advocate for the people it serves. “Everybody’s got skills, talents and knowledge. That’s really what this place is all about.”
But to keep the place running at an optimal level, the leaders of Yahara House are looking for more helping hands. There are a variety of positions open.
The same is true for Journey Mental Health Center, which is hiring for other locations throughout Dane County. While experience is preferred, it’s not mandatory.
Gonzalez acknowledges it can be challenging work, but said it’s also very rewarding. She encouraged anyone interested in helping others to apply.
“I’ve worked with agencies before where you are provided with a certain time off or PTO, and things like that, but this is a place where you can take it and you are encouraged to do that,” Gonzales said. “This is not necessarily just about the mental health of the folks that we are supporting, it’s also about the staff. We can’t really take care of others unless we take care of ourselves as well.”
Another Yahara House employee, Serena Richards, agreed. She said she loves working in the historic building, with a team that she said feels like family.
The Yahara House belonged to Madison’s first mayor. But that’s not the only historic owner of the property.
“We recently learned that before this house was here, Frank Lloyd Wright’s mom built a house on this parcel of land,” said Brad Schlough, director of Yahara House. “Frank Lloyd Wright lived here for a period of time before going to the University of Madison, so you know, the house is already special to us, but that just adds to the mystique and the history.”
Schlough said the work they do there is special too, and he hopes to grow his team soon.
“We believe that Yahara House turns the medical model upside down because so many people with mental health challenges are used to being asked what’s wrong with them,” he said. “We really turn that around here and show them all they can do.”
You can learn more about the job openings here.