30 years at Daybreak
Daybreak, a shining constellation within the greater universe of Martha's Vineyard Community Services (MVCS), celebrated its 30th anniversary on Saturday. People clustered in festive groups, live music was performed, and beverages were sipped as a busy culinary staff served hors d'oeuvres and pastries.
The mission of Daybreak, which originated in the 1970s with the deinstitutionalization of mental health care, is to facilitate independent living in the community for those with mental illness. And the story at Daybreak has proven to have a very happy ending.
Director Carolyn Eddy began the afternoon festivities by telling the attendees, "It is a place to shine, grow and excel," adding, "Everyone and all of you are loved."
And others shared their stories.
One member remembered, "I first came to Daybreak in 1981. We were just forming as a group of people who cared for others in the community. Tom Bennett (the first director) showed me that and gave me a sense of pride and happiness. I thank Tom Bennett for giving shelter and food."
Mr. Bennett, in his first year of working in mental health, acting on instructions from Dr. Milton Mazer, the consummate advocate for those with mental illness, founded Daybreak as a treatment model in 1978. From the start, it provided support with group counseling, artistic expression, and activities.
Another member described the program: "It included a morning meeting where everybody said hello. It helped me feel welcome, like I was an individual."
And of suicidal thoughts: "I know I can do better than that. I still get low feelings sometimes, but I know how to ride it through now."
Many without hope found structure and routine at Daybreak. A veteran from the early days said, "It's a whole creation of people. I have a fond feeling of Daybreak."
Daybreak, termed a "Clubhouse," has come far since beginning under the auspices of MVCS. In the program's first seasons, members gathered in a bare room in Edgartown, equipped with a dining hall and kitchen, then moved each summer as the program moved to Grace Church in Vineyard Haven. It has since joined the over 400 programs of the International Center for Clubhouse Development (ICCD), which was founded in 1948.
festivities. From left: Adrienne, Sue, and Daybreak director Carolyn, who, like everyone at Daybreak, remain on a first-name basis.
Photos courtesy of Jan Hatchard
In any Club, according to ICCD, the requirements include having available work and a supportive, sympathetic community. Daybreak also began to provide housing supports and to sponsor social events on weekends and holidays and trips for simple recreation out into the community.
A work-ordered day was organized where members - anyone with a history of mental illness from schizophrenia to obsessive compulsive disorder to bipolar - work side by side with the staff to perform all the jobs of the Clubhouse, and a transitional employment (TE) program began, with temporary jobs for members with local businesses. Clearly marked white boards, one in each unit, headline the almost 45 different tasks of the Clubhouse, such jobs as prepping food in the kitchen unit, recording daily attendance and writing in the newsletter in the business unit, and cleaning the bathroom or sanitizing the counters in the employment unit. The three units - kitchen, business and employment - are hives of activity as folks stand busily around the whiteboards ready to sign up for jobs.
The day ends usually at 6 pm, and the Clubhouse is restored to order, so that is always the place to come, the place to return, and the place of meaningful work and relationships - the four rights of membership.
Daybreak, which continues to be under the auspices of Community Services, moved to a location off the MVCS campus, where it could thrive as an independent community establishment.
In 2005, director Carolyn Eddy (along with a member) received training in Clubhouse development from Genesis Club in Worcester. Ms. Eddy, with the staff and membership, set about finding a new Daybreak space to occupy off State Road in Tisbury, a bigger space where housing, education and employment supports are provided. Recognizing that life does not simply beat to a five-day work week, the Clubhouse sponsors social events on weekends and holidays.
Former director Deborah Edmunds said of her three and a half years as director, "The members at Daybreak face daily challenges with admirable determination and humor. I take that example with me as I move on to challenges of my own."
Today, thanks to the efforts of employment coordinator Dick Marshall, the Clubhouse holds temporary, six- to nine-month jobs for members who are ready to reenter the workforce with community businesses as varied as The Martha's Vineyard Times, Morning Glory Farm, and Murdick's Fudge. And the social program on weekends and holidays now includes off-Island shopping trips, picnics, and coffee houses at the Clubhouse, where members and staff play original music and read poetry.
Members, arrive each day for a morning meeting. Morning meeting rallies members and staff for the beginning of the work-ordered day that provides the routine, structure and a sense of accomplishment that Ms. Eddy calls a central tenet of Clubhouses around the world.
"The whole idea in recovery from mental illness is the person finding their way back - the way back is by doing," said Ms. Eddy, underscoring the work ethic so paramount to Clubhouses. "It really works by staff and members working together," she said.
So members designed the invitation for the anniversary party, and members created the invitation list, culling and combining names from different databases. Members played music at the party and worked in the kitchen.
Gaiety was on display at Saturday's anniversary party. From one corner, members and staff played original music. There were muffin-size quiches, strawberries dipped in chocolate, and cucumber soup. The program's first member/staff cookbook, "Good Cooking, Good Eating," was displayed for sale. Homemade multi-colored birdhouses were readied for the raffle.
There were close to 70 friends, family, staff, members, and supporters attending the raffle that featured gifts donated by Donaroma's, the Vineyard Haven Thrift Shop, Walmart, COMSOG, and the membership.
One member said it best: "Daybreak is a place where I can win my fight for freedom."
Jonathan Burke of Daybreak Outreach provided this firsthand account of the Daybreak anniversary. Mr. Burke is a lawyer and a former reporter for The Times and the Vineyard Gazette.