Maine Mental Health Connections’ Together Place Social Club provides social and recreational opportunities for mental health consumers, including many people of low-income. In addition to offering low-cost and no-cost food, TPSC offer recreational activity, including pool tournaments, chess tournaments, excursions to national and state parks, crafting, help with resumes and vocational efforts, karaoke, bingo, and much more — all for a population that is chronically under-served and often very limited in financial resources, thereby decreasing isolation for hundreds of people who often feel isolated.
Throughout his life, TJ, now 21, has faced many social, economic, and academic challenges. Like too many young adults in our society he has often had to deal with these struggles on his own, without much guidance from an adult role model figure to support him and otherwise show him the way to a more stable and quality way of life. He participated in Special Education in Guilford schools. TJ received his high school diploma in 2013 and decided to attend Washington County Community College. With very minimal adult guidance TJ struggled with time management and the balance of college life and a college workload. TJ left after one semester. Without any regular adult guidance, the challenges of keeping up financially, mentally, emotionally and structurally can be extremely daunting.
In the winter months of 2015-2016, TJ found himself in the Bangor area, living in and out of shelters, looking for work through labor companies, odd jobs, and other means of making ends meet. Around January of 2016, TJ learned about the Together Place Social Club (TPSC) and decided to check it out. TJ had difficulty fitting in at first at the TPSC, becoming a target for accusations and possible mistrust, sometimes getting into disputes. Yet TJ found out about the forms of assistance that can be provided through the activities programs of TPSC.
Since constructing his resume, growing his self-confidence, and finding a more stable environment to spend his free time, TJ has been able to find multiple jobs and has progressed emotionally and socially, becoming more patient with people, treating people with respect, and learning to deal with his frustrations in much healthier ways. TJ is now in his fourth week with the City of Bangor Forestry Department where he has made himself a valuable asset, while also gaining beneficial work experience. He has been working a nearly full-time schedule each week and has been learning the importance of time management and budgeting, while still progressing with the social club.
TJ has become a valued member of Together Place Social Club and has found a place that he can feel accepted and valued. In fact TJ became a member of the Together Place Social Club Board, making him more involved and accountable in the day-to-day operations of the club. As a board-member, TJ is involved – involved in creating and enforcing rules, helping decide on different types of activities and outings, preparing activities, and otherwise having a say in overall operations. Although there are many chapters left in his story, TJ has finally found a place where he can focus his time and energy toward discovering his full potential and becoming an adult through positive recreational, social, and educational activities with Together Place Social Club.