After months of hard work and grit, Alliance House Members celebrate an education milestone

The energy in the Masonic Temple was palpable.  Families, friends, and graduates were taking pictures while getting ready to participate in a rite of passage, once previously not available to them, their high school graduation commencement.  Each year, Alliance House offers its graduating students a commencement ceremony so that they can receive their high school diploma in full cap and gown, cheered on by family and friends.  Each graduate told the story of their journey, each unique but with a shared sense of elation that this never-expected day has come.  Educational dreams were crushed at an early age in for these people because of the effects of mental illness but, through dedicated work with Alliance House and Horizonte Training Center, their lives have changed course. 

The theme of this year’s commencement was “Dream Big, Build Bridges and Expand Horizons”, and these graduates now finally see a brighter future for themselves where they can go far beyond just settling for what they can get. 

The Alliance House Educational Coordinator, Terry Harrison, said “most of the people that first walk through our doors are pretty downtrodden; but, after participating in the Alliance House program for a year, they are ready to run out the door, emboldened with new possibilities because they now see that they have the power to create the future of their dreams”.   As one of the other guest speakers and previous year’s graduate, David Ivy, so eloquently said, “the greatest obstacle to expanding our horizons is ourselves”. 

In his speech, Leif Oldert, Executive Director of Alliance House said “in order to achieve our goals and expand our horizons, we build bridges by working together as peers to lift each other up so that no dream is out of reach.  Regardless of where your life’s journey takes you, the Clubhouse community will always be here for you”.

After the speeches, each graduate received their diploma and had a few moments to share their story.  Graduate Olivia said, “If it wasn’t for the Alliance House staff and fellow members, I wouldn’t be here today.  They never quit on me and provided unconditional support without judgment”. 

Following the ceremony, family and friends were able to partake in a catered dinner.

While the graduation commencement is an important ceremony for Alliance House members, none of this work would be possible without the support of our long-time educational partner, Horizonte Training Center.  They have partnered with Alliance House for the past thirty years to provide our members with the opportunity to earn their diploma in a way that enables members to work at their own pace in a supportive and accommodating environment.

This year’s commencement was made possible thanks to the generosity of America First Credit Union and Squatters.  Thank you.






By |2017-07-17T20:55:18+00:00July 17th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on After months of hard work and grit, Alliance House Members celebrate an education milestone

Being a Consumer Advocate by Dunc Macdonald

Over the last 7 ½ years, I have had the honor and privilege of being on the Salt Lake County Behavioral Health Services Advisory Board.  The role of this board is to advise the Mayor’s Office on subjects involving services around mental health and substance abuse in Salt Lake County.   My role was to give input based on my experience as a consumer, around how the resources were provided.

During my tenure, I got to know some of the key players on a first name basis including Optum, Select Health and the officers in the Behavioral Health division at Salt Lake County.   I also discovered some great cuisine.  I was part of a hiring committee which added 2 new people to the council.  During this time, I learned a great deal about how and when to voice my opinion and do so in a tactful way. At one point, I had to be reminded about not repeating myself too many times in a meeting.   I was, also, able to use my accounting knowledge to understand some PowerPoints.  This was especially useful while discussing the impact of the Affordable Care Act.   At one point, we were discussing the use of the jail for holding people with mental illnesses and I pointed out that if these individuals were to be connected to Alliance House they would have something to do besides going back to jail.

Once again, I had a great ride on this council and learned a great deal about myself and what it takes to be on a board.

By |2017-07-06T17:00:40+00:00July 6th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Being a Consumer Advocate by Dunc Macdonald