Thunderbird Clubhouse offers help for the present and future


Thunderbird Clubhouse has served the diverse needs of the mentally ill in the Norman area for more than 20 years. Of its five major programs, Executive Director Linn Bohm said two would not be possible without financial assistance from the United Way.

The Health and Wellness program, which receives more than half its budget from United Way, provides low-cost meals to Thunderbird Clubhouse members and adds a skill-building element to help educate members.

“Every aspect of the program — making the meals, planning the meals and budgeting — our members and staff do that together,” Bohm said. “So, our members are actually learning these skills while they’re benefiting from the program. So, it helps them with life skills. And if they were ever to go get a job in the restaurant industry, they’ve already learned a lot those skills here at Clubhouse.”

That philosophy of help now and later is woven into its other United Way partner initiative, the Financial Health program.

One component helps Thunderbird Clubhouse members find a job and keep it.

“A lot of people with mental illness find it difficult to keep a mainstream job in the community,” Bohm said. “Maybe their medication has side effects, or they have multiple doctors’ appointments or behavioral issues that employers don’t understand.

“So, we provide job coaches and we help them not only secure the job, but we befriend the employer and advocate for [our members] to keep the job.”

The other is the Individual Development Accounts program, a bank deposit matching program where members put in $15 a month that Clubhouse matches at a two-to-one rate, solely with United Way funds.

“They’ve only put in $15 a month, but at the end of the year, they’re walking away with almost $500 in their pocket to help them with emergency savings,” Bohm said. “A lot of our members have medical bills or credit card bills they’re paying off, so they use that money for a number of things throughout the year.”

Bohm said at a time where many nonprofits are suffering, the contributions of the United Way and its supporters become even more crucial, not just to Thunderbird Clubhouse, but to the community at large.

“I think it’s really important with the cuts right now to devote time and energy and resources to agencies like United Way partner agencies, because we actually save the community money,” Bohm said. “If someone is active in Clubhouse, they’re less likely to be incarcerated, less likely to go to the emergency room or go to a hospital because they’re depressed and isolated.”

The United Way of Norman funds programs at 27 local nonprofit organizations. The United Way and these agencies work together to create lasting community changes in Norman, Noble and southern Cleveland County. For more information or to give to the United Way of Norman,

Source: Thunderbird Clubhouse offers help for the present and future