My Story by Mike Coleman

I was introduced to the Alliance House, by the University of Utah Hospital, 5 West Psychiatric Ward. I was admitted on the 27th of September, in 2016.  I admitted myself, due to complications from alcohol dependency and my issues of harming myself.

My issues with alcohol haunted me for quite some time. I started drinking in my twenties.  At that time, it was used to relax me and gave me the courage to be outgoing.  During my childhood, I was usually a shy kid and I had issues with self-confidence and low self-esteem.  I grew up in a military household, so I was expected to excel in school and sports.  I excelled in football and gained a scholarship to play at Dixie College.  That is where my drinking started.  I was young and living on my own for the first time. I continued drinking, socially, but I was able to function and excel at my career as an account receivables/credit analyst.

My drinking got out of control, back in 2010. This was during the great recession and the collapse of the housing market.  I was laid off from my job, as a Credit Analyst, with Staker and Parson Companies.  I was there for 6 years and I loved my job and the people there.  I had trouble finding work that paid me the same as my last job.  To make things worst, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and my father passed away, November of that year.

So, the combination of time on my hands and dealing with tragedy with my family, I went on a downward spiral. I started having panic/anxiety attacks and I used alcohol to control them.  I tried numerous medications, i.e. Xanax, Prozac, etc.  None of them worked, as well as alcohol did.  Sometimes I would combine the drugs with alcohol.  My drinking escalated from drinking beers to drinking 1 or 2 liters of vodka a day.

When I was able to obtain employment, my drinking still continued. Unfortunately, my anxiety/panic attacks did not stop, so I would drink at work.  This caused me to lose jobs and good ones, as well.  I started noticing withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, which I came to learn are called Delirium Tremens.  Symptoms include uncontrollable shakes, nausea, difficulty with walking, confusion and possible seizures.  To control those I would double my intake of alcohol.  I’ve been to several detox facilities and rehabs.

This last episode, I was dealing with the loss of my brother and sister. Both died within a month apart, July and August.  I relapsed after 7 months of sobriety.  I came into the 5 West Psychiatric unit to detox from alcohol and to get help with my anxiety/depression issues.  I was living on the streets for about a month.  During my stay there, I was introduced to the Alliance House.  I watched a video and I was impressed at what I saw.   At the time, I was looking for housing and I was told that they helped out with that.  After my discharge, I moved into a Sober Living facility.

During my stay at the Sober Living facility, I took my first tour of the Alliance House. I was introduced to the 3 units they have, which is the Business Unit, Culinary Unit, and the Career Development Unit.  I enjoy all three of them.  But most of all, I love the culture and environment.  Even the staff is part of the community and there are no labels or stigmas.  Everyone is great and everyone has their own stories and challenges.



By |2017-06-05T03:19:30+00:00February 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on My Story by Mike Coleman

Wayne’s Member Story


I have been coming to clubhouse for about two years now.  My introduction to Alliance House was through a friend who was already a member.

I came at first expecting there to be nothing to do except the old model of an adult drop off center.  Boy was I ever wrong, much to my surprise. I found there was much to do, all of it was meaningful work not the usual adult make work of drop-in centers.

I have found much fulfillment: helping cook the meals; tutor students in math and science; or running and organizing the Clubhouse Closet.  Each of these activities has taught me things about myself and how to get along with others I work with.

At clubhouse there is no distinction as to who has what diagnosis or disability. We all work side by side as equals.  Some are talented in one area, some are talented in another; these are not barriers they are learning experiences.  We take these opportunities to make friends, strengthen our own resolve; this happens between both staff and members.

I have found not only a sense of belonging here at clubhouse; I have also found in a degree a sense of family.  I have gained people in my life I would have never met or been able to include in my circle of friends and family.

by Wayne

By |2017-06-05T03:19:30+00:00February 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Erin Crawford

This is my story: By Erin Crawford

When I first heard about Alliance House, I told my parents that I did not want to go there, I was scared. They said to me, “go check it out” and “see what it all about”. So I went with them and they got me a tour at the Alliance house. I was scared for a few days, then I met some people they were just like me and I made some friends there. After a few months, I knew all about the Alliance House and now I have been here for 2 years and I love it. It helps me get out of bed and be with other people and do activities on Thursday and 2 times during the month on Saturday. Now I am the clubhouse rep and I help with donations. I also help in the kitchen, with shopping, and grocery lists. This is the best place I have been to.

My mom helped me all my life. She’s been there for me. I wanted to thank her.

By |2017-01-26T21:03:00+00:00January 26th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Erin Crawford

Tracy Allen’s Clubhouse provides the Keys to the Future

  • All through my childhood, I struggled with dark and lonely days. My depression left me in a downward spiral, leaving me with nothing but fear. Everything I did, see, and hear constantly scared me. With my PTSD I was stuck in the middle of a nightmare
  • Locked up in my head, I was completely numb. Everything inside of me was dead with no feelings and no life, with no future, my home (shelter) was a dark echoing cave.
  • I would hibernate by closing my eyes and curling up in a ball – from crippling flashbacks; this was going on every frightening hour.
  • In my preteens I was introduced to drugs
  • Unfortunately I slipped even further and got more stuck in my mental illness.
  • Later on in the following months, I became caught up in theft and vandalism. I was feeling suicidal even started cutting. I trusted no one. Thinking everyone was out to hurt me.
  • I was living with Mother at the time but because of my poor choices I could no longer live with her.
  • I received emergency housing. Although I was grateful for a roof over my head I still struggled to pay bills and buy groceries.  I didn’t have the skills to understand or keep a budget so I had to have my mother be my representative payee
  • Thankfully, soon after getting emergency housing I was able to receive housing through HUD. I was able to move into the cozy apartment I have today.
  • One day in 2007 a nurse at Valley Behavioral Health suggested I check out a place called Alliance House
  • I went to orientation at Alliance House and that day I was able to open my eyes and ears a bit for the first time.
  • I finally found hope – the kind of hope I only heard some people say, but never really felt. I came by the next day still a bit in my shell and a nervous wreck, for I hadn’t experienced this aspect of mental health services before. Through working with members and staff (even if for short periods of time), I started building confidence, self-esteem and friendships.
  • Approximately six months later, I started to become comfortable with people and learned how to trust. With the support of members and staff – I have learned many new tools like:
    • Sobriety and wellness
    • Social and behavioral skills with the support of my Clubhouse community.
    • I felt confident enough to try a transitional employment job in the community
    • I worked with staff to find ways to improve my reading comprehension despite my learning disability
    • I have been given peer leadership and mentoring opportunities through Alliance House
    • And I even got a chance of a lifetime to attend a Clubhouse Conference in Hawaii


‘Alliance House not only can provide actual keys for housing which is the reason why many of us are here today but for me it has provided the keys I needed for my future.’

By |2017-06-05T03:19:30+00:00January 18th, 2017|Member Stories, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Member Story from Michael Grant

I have come from a well understanding of mental health awareness in my early youth; feather more in my early twenty. Around that time, was when I heard and started to come and attend to Alliance House which would be back in late year of 2010. I had enrolled with getting my high school diploma within a year & it was awesome, because a lot of staffs & members along the side work and team together to get things going smooth. After I graduated, Transitional Employment was offering me to Jones Waldo, which was a great offer, but at that time I didn’t think it would suit me good. A few months passed by, then the University of Utah Transitional Employment was offered to me. It was a great job, because most times I would be outdoors which indeed is lovely. It was the right match for me. By all that reasoning Alliance House given me a states of clarity of knowledge by being a social accommodation of volunteer work in the clubhouse, which as getting to understand by other similarity of the varsity of managing job skills in which/or getting schooling to qualified to reach goals of careers.


Thank you my dearest friends at Alliance House.

Minty G. (Michael Grant)

By |2017-01-20T22:19:14+00:00January 4th, 2017|Member Stories, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Member Story from Michael Grant

Dell Davis member story


How are you doing my name is Dell Davis

My history starts on January 28, 1978 when I was born I was 7lbs 6 ounces I was a beautiful baby and but I had a rough life. I was the oldest of 5 siblings. At an early age it became clear that I had ADHD among other things. By the time I was 3 years old I was already getting in trouble at preschool and the state of Nevada wanted to take me away from my mom because it was difficult for her to take care of me and my brother and sister. My grandparents stepped in and took custody of me.

When I was 9 I moved with my grandparents from Nevada to Salt Lake city. I was put in the special education program at Rosewood Elementary, where I made a lot of friends.

I finished elementary and moved to west valley and went to Glendale Intermediate school. Kids made fun of me and teased me. So I started getting in lots of fights and getting in trouble. We moved again, in fact we moved 8 times from the age of 12-15. All of the moves made it hard for me to get anywhere with my education. I had to repeat a lot of grades. Granite School District agreed to allow me to stay enrolled in the Highland High school special education program regardless of where I lived.

By the time I was 23, I still hadn’t completed High school and I dropped out. I experienced more moves, homelessness and instability. I tried to go back to school at an adult education center. They would throw work at me and tell me to just do it. They didn’t give me any help or support. I dropped out again.

At 28 I got married and had a beautiful baby girl, Karin Lynn Davis. We moved to Arizona looking for a fresh start. Be both had mental illnesses and struggled. The state of Arizona intervened and took our daughter away from us. We were fighting a lot and I was in and out of jail. I eventually ended up in prison for 3.5 years. During that time we lost all rights to our daughter. After prison I moved back to Salt Lake and reconnected with my wife.

We were stable for about three years and then we lost our housing, she went to live with her mom and I was facing homelessness. I had been attending Alliance House and was able to get housing through them. I started the education program for about a year and have been working furiously for the last year trying to complete my education and finally get my high school diploma.

And here I am!

Throughout the years I have faced a lot of challenges and set-backs. Now I can actually say I finished something in my life. I am going to keep moving forward trying to better my life.

I thank Alliance House for getting me into housing and the chance to complete my education. I want to thank Terry, Loretta, Amber, Leif and Hayley and everyone else that has supported me at Alliance House.

I would also like to thank my in-laws for the support they have shown me and all the help they have given me throughout the years.

Congratulations to all of the graduates. Thank you all for coming and allowing me the opportunity to share my story.


Update: Dell is starting his first Alliance House Transitional Employment opportunity today!!! We wish him the best of luck and know he will do a great job:)

By |2017-06-05T03:19:30+00:00December 28th, 2016|Member Stories, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Dell Davis member story

Benefits of Meditation

By, Fadumo “Fatima” Awad

I have been practicing meditation twice daily for about 6 months. I was having some hard times in my life and a friend suggested that I try meditation. Every morning when I wake up I meditate for about 20-30 minutes. I find a quiet spot in my house and turn on some of my favorite music. I have found that meditation helps me release all the bad stuff from my mind and my body. I feel less stressed and more relaxed. It helps me to have a more positive mind set and not worry so much. As a result, I am happier now than I was before.  I have found that these benefits will often last throughout the day. At night right before I get ready for bed I meditate again for another 20-30 minutes. My sleep is more restful and I don’t have pains in my back like I used to. Incorporating meditation into my daily routine has been a healthy change that has made a huge difference in my life.

By |2017-06-05T03:19:30+00:00December 21st, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Welcome to our new staff!

by Rachael Giles

For many months the Alliance House searched for the right fit in new staff members.  It was a long and arduous journey, yet one well worth traveling for we have found three gems to join us here as staff members.

First to join us was Heather in the beginning of September.  Before working here she was employed at Odyssey House where she worked with troubled children and “learned how to build patience.”  When asked why she chose the Business Unit she simply replied “because it’s awesome!”  She has a degree in psychology from the University of San Diego.

“I always enjoyed helping people but didn’t like the clinical side.”

Her goal in the Alliance House is “to be a helpful, positive staff member, to create a positive atmosphere.”  When introduced to the Clubhouse model she said,

“I like the equality and building relationships with people… you can do that better here than in a clinic… it’s a new way of healing.”

Some of Heather’s passions include running, hiking, biking, “anything outdoors,” playing the guitar and singing.

Following Heather, Rachel joined team Alliance House in late October.  When told she was going to be joining the Business Unit she enthusiastically agreed.  Before coming here she worked in a nursing home for individuals with Alzheimer’s where she learning “dealing with all kinds of people.”  She loves that she can joke around with members who have helped her train.

“I feel like the model makes a lot of sense and stands out against other models, it’s really unique.”

She wants to be a good generalist and “help people achieve their goals.”  Upon arriving here Rachel really enjoyed the sense of freedom and radical equality surrounding the Alliance House, something that can’t be found in a clinic.  She loves hiking, embroidery, cross stitch, old movies and cats.

On November 14, 2016 Daniel became our newest staff member to join us here.  He was extremely happy to work in the Career Development Unit due to his extensive experience in job hunting.

“When I first came to Salt Lake City I was a client of Valley Behavioral Health, so I’ve been on both sides of the organization.”

Previous to the Alliance House Daniel worked at both UNI and 5 West as a psychiatric technician where he learned verbal, nonverbal and paraverbal communication.  He says his goal starting out here is to “wrap my mind around how the whole thing works and its complexities.”  He enjoys our goals of “measurable outcomes,” to help people realize their immediate goals.  Having moved around a lot in his past he knows what it is to be the outsider and loves how everyone here has included him in everything and have been “super friendly.”

In his spare time Daniel loves to draw cartoons and things including magical realism and is learning to play the guitar.

Please help us welcome all of these new amazing staff members to our loving Clubhouse model with all of our enthusiasm and passion for achieving all our goals and working as one to better the life of individuals.  Let’s make these new staff members’ goals come to life within the Alliance House.img_0972

By |2017-06-05T03:19:30+00:00December 7th, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

USA National Clubhouse Conference


By: Richard Lovato and Terry Harrison

Two staff and one member recently attended the USA National Clubhouse Conference held in Arlington VA just across from Washington D.C.. Leif Oldert (Alliance House Executive Director), Terry Harrison (Staff of Alliance House) and Richard Lovato (Alliance House Member) all attended this training from September 18th-20th 2016.

Richard and Terry were asked to assist with presentation of two workshops at this conference; one on Transitional Employment and one on Supported Education. Our focus for the Transitional Employment presentation was on partnering with the greater community and on drawing from a wide variety of employment opportunities within the clubhouse area community. This is important to ensure members have access to as many employment positions as possible. We also shared the importance of Transitional Employment being a stepping stone to future employment both supported and independent.

Our presentation on Supported Education focused on the importance of following International Clubhouse Standard 25 which states “The Clubhouse assist members to further their vocational and educational goals, by helping them take advantage of opportunities in the community.” We emphasized the importance that education within the Clubhouse is not to create classes per se; it is to facilitate a connection between members and outside vocational and educational resources.

It was an awesome experience for us to attend and participate in. We were fortunate to also attend other workshops and learn from other clubhouse representatives of ways for our own Clubhouse to assist members with greater opportunities for their personal growth.  We attended one on assisting members to become more self-sufficient and to work towards independence from the benefits cycle. It was impressive to explore these options more fully understanding that there are those who are in need of governmental benefits. In the opening Plenary we heard from Governor Paul LePage Governor of Maine who is a great advocate and participant with the Transitional Employment Program within Clubhouse,  his community and state. He stressed that we need to reach out and work with our own legislators in our states to increase understanding and opportunity. Governor LePage stressed “Legislators work for us, we do not for them.”

We want to thank Alliance House and the International Clubhouse Community for the support and opportunity to attend and participate is such a wonderful event.


By |2017-06-05T03:19:30+00:00November 30th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on USA National Clubhouse Conference

Overcoming Mental Illness/Stigma {Video}

 Overcoming Mental Illness Stigma video

By: Divey -Alliance House Member

In my Health Education class on Thursday nights we participate in Book Club discussion groups.  My partners Bata and Bracken asked me on October 27, 2016 if I would be willing to help them with a project.  They have another Health Education class together in which extra credit is being offered for class members who submit a video for the Healthi4U contest.  I volunteered to help.

We went to another room to videotape the video.  I asked them what topic they wanted to talk about.  They looked at each other confusedly and then asked me, “Do you have any topic you are passionate about?”  I smiled BIG.

Without a script and after already attending 2 classes that day I sat down and smiled at the camera.  I talked about the stereotypical preconceived ideas many people have about persons diagnosed with a mental illness. I explained about how the Alliance House is different from other rehabilitation methods.  I told how people experiencing mental illnesses that have been out in the community have skills that they can use to contribute to society.  We can rebuild old and develop new skills.  By being able to share these skills in society those affected by mental illness can contribute to society and require less support from their community and family.  I closed with, “I have returned to the University of Utah.  I contribute to society. I have mental illness, but it does not have me.”

 Competition Overview

Healthi4U is an annual competitive program for interdisciplinary teams of students at the University of Utah to create short health-related videos. This competition is generously funded by the Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Hayward Family Foundation and is coordinated by the Healthi4U student leaders, Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, and a team of university faculty.

The goal of this video competition is to create engaging and informative videos related to health! We are interested in the messaging of the videos for patients, their families, and the health care professionals who care for them. The competition is open to all full-time, matriculated University of Utah undergraduate and graduate students.

Video Specifics

  • Create an original 2-3 minute video on a health topic of their choice.
    • The videos may be either live action or animation.
  • The video must be filmed by the team and be all original content.
  • Teams may use public domain and/or royalty free music; however, it must be cited and used appropriately as specified in the Terms & Conditions.
  • Absolutely no copyrighted materials may be used in the videos. This includes music, images downloaded from the internet, stock video, etc. that is not explicitly royalty-free and available for redistribution.

A competition lead screen will be added to videos before posting them on YouTube. If you are proficient with editing, please add the lead screen to the beginning of your video for five seconds. If you do not include the lead screen, please include your project name and team member names in the submission.

Judging & Awards


Judging will take place online November 10-14. Videos will be made available during this time on YouTube.Videos will be judged on four criteria based on this rubric for a total of 50 points:

Messaging: impact, applicability, accuracy, content expertise, evidence-based, clarity, relevance   35 points

  1. Creativity: appeal, novelty, innovation, imaginative   10 points
  2. Production quality: production value, cinematography, sound quality, editing   5 points

Total: 50 points

Bonus points: 5 points for multidisciplinary teams (e.g., are members represented from different departments and colleges)

The People’s Choice Award will be awarded to the video with the most YouTube “likes.” Teams are encouraged to share their videos with friends and family to solicit votes. (YouTube “dislikes” will have no effect on judging.) 


Monetary awards will be given for:

  • 1stPlace – $3000
  • 2ndPlace – $1000
  • 3rdPlace – $500
  • People’s Choice – $500
  • Best Foreign Language Video – $1000

Winners will be announced and awards distributed during the Capstone award event. At least one team member needs to be present at the Capstone event to receive the team award.

University of Utah matriculated students (any students enrolled in a degree-granting program) are eligible to participate. Students may elect to receive the award as either a scholarship or non-scholarship award. All awards will be reported to the University Scholarship Office and will count toward a student’s Cost of Attendance limitation. The University Scholarship Office will deposit scholarship awards in the recipients’ University accounts on January 6, 2016. Students with available credit who do not wish to apply the credit toward future tuition may request payment by check. Questions regarding eligibility and award payment should be directed to the Scholarship Office. Scholarship awards for domestic students are generally considered to be non-taxable income when used for tuition, books or supplies for classes. Domestic students should review IRS publication 970. Some foreign students may be subject to withholding taxes. Non-scholarship awards have fewer restrictions, but are more likely to be taxable. All award recipients are encouraged to contact University Tax Services for assistance- http://fbs.admin.utah.edu/tax-services/ (Links to an external site.).

By |2017-06-05T03:19:31+00:00November 9th, 2016|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Overcoming Mental Illness/Stigma {Video}