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+00:00 December 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+00:00 December 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+00:00 November 30th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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+00:00 November 9th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments


duncBy: Duncan Macdonald

The Clubhouse assist members to reach their vocational and educational goals by helping them take advantage of educational opportunities in the community. When the Clubhouse also provides an in house educational program, it significantly utilizes the teaching and tutoring skills of members.

This standard is very important especially considering that mental illness typically strikes during high school and college years. Members need the opportunity to finish their education and obtain their employment goals. I have been personally fortunate to assist with both as a student and tutoring. As a student I experienced both the highs and the lows of going to college with mental illness and the support I needed from members and staff. I had days where everything was going well and I could give energetic reports. Still other days were met with challenges where absolutely nothing appeared to go right. On those days I would come into Alliance House and there was always a friendly and supportive member or staff willing to sit with me and work through the challenges. The staff would assist me with stress reduction by getting me to assist with projects and Clubhouse work as well as getting me to lighten up by bantering back and forth. This was truly beneficial to me and has given me the empathy to be able to understand others and the challenges they face with their education. I really like to see the Aha moments when a student realizes they are getting a concept.

I highly encourage all members to take the opportunity to work towards finishing their education and also to tutor if they so desire and have the skills necessary.

By | 2017-06-05T03:19:31+00:00 November 3rd, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Member Stories

rachelle-photo-blogLife After Death — By H. Rachelle Graham

The pain inside me used to eat me from the inside out, as if boiling water scorched my skin to third-degree burns. Breathing was difficult. Eating was impossible.  Sleeping was something I could not do. I was out of my mind and couldn’t even recognize my own parents. I thought they were evil spirits chasing me. My ups and downs resulted in me staying at home all day watching marathons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson Creek and One Tree Hill.   I got lost in a world where everything wasn’t hurting, I also lost track of time and hated my life so badly I tried to kill myself age twenty. At the time, I wasn’t happy I survived the doctor pumping my stomach and recharging my heart. I believed they had wasted their time. Although, as I saw the pain and worry in my parents and sisters eyes a part of me knew they needed me in this world so I had to learn how to survive in it. I started Alliance House in 2011. I recognized the pain disappearing slowly as I was put to work both in a transitional employment and at the clubhouse.  My transitional employment was with Camp Bow Wow, working with dogs. I liked it and enjoyed being able to bring my service dog to play with other small animals like her. The biggest shock came when something else started happening. I thought I was sick. I went to my therapist to see what was wrong with me. When I described my symptoms of calmness, a bubbling inside and the need to sing, write and dance again, I thought I was going through another maniac state, but my therapist asked me other questions. My answers were I was sleeping again, dreaming again and feeling the urge to eat again. Instead of staying in bed all day, I jumped out of bed to go see my new friends at the clubhouse, go to work and finally got my life back. She said I wasn’t experiencing mania, I was feeling happy, something that had become foreign to me over time since being diagnosed at the age of twenty. Hospital stays became non-existent and I haven’t tried to hurt myself since 2011. Since then, I had a successful job for two years as a peer specialist where I could in turn help others deal with their mental illness, published two novels starting in 2012, graduated college with a bachelor’s degree and am currently working on a third novel with a writing coach and a New York City literary agent. If I ever make real money, I would donate to the Alliance House because they are one of the main reasons the days are lighter, that I am writing again and that I not only love myself but have the ability to help and love others.

By | 2017-06-05T03:19:31+00:00 October 27th, 2016|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Standard of the Season

By Dunc Macdonald

This season’s standard is number nine: “Clubhouse staff are sufficient to engage the membership, yet few enough to make carrying out their responsibilities impossible without member involvement.”

I feel that this standard is one of those where we need to think about the intent of the standard rather than the word-by-word meaning.  The real intent is to ensure that members feel needed wanted and expected.   I love how that happens for so many members on a day-by-day basis.  For me, it’s doing the paper daily as well as accounting tasks for the Clubhouse.

I know that the standard talks about having the staff engage the members but in truth it should also be the older members and members that are around for meetings to include the new members and the stragglers that miss the meetings.  Whenever possible, I will ask for help with some parts of the paper daily.   I feel that every member can help the Clubhouse in some capacity.

This standard is also about allowing members to find their calling by trying out new projects with colleagues that have experience in that area of the day-by-day operation.  I wouldn’t of been reminded of my interest in accounting without the opportunities of reconciling the Clubhouse checkbook and other accounting projects around Alliance House.

I hope that this article enlightened you about this standard and that you will take this message to heart.

By | 2016-11-03T22:11:30+00:00 September 16th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Cheers and Challenges – Remembering Taddese Wilson


Taddese, we will miss you.

By Duncan Macdonald & Amber Mackay

For this edition, we’re going to take a break from our standard process and instead we’re going to do a tribute to our good friend and long-time member, Taddese Wilson, who recently passed away.

Some memories from Duncan: “I always thought it was funny how whenever we did a project together, we would have to take turns asking each other “What?”  Taddese was also an excellent challenger to play Poker and Rummikub with.   It was entertaining how he would always put the Rummikub tiles in reverse order  on the table.  Also, Taddese constantly wore his sunglasses even inside.  He, also, loved checking lockers for the CD Unit. “

Some memories from Amber:  “Taddese and I started Alliance House around the same time which was over 10 years ago.  He came to the Clubhouse literally every day unless he was in the hospital.  Taddese liked to use his training as an engineer to help the Clubhouse out.  He was very good at math, so naturally we would encourage him to tutor students and also to work on completing our statistics.  He overcame a lot of physical health problems by determining to change his lifestyle.  When he first started he smoked but he worked hard to overcome that habit and for the last eight or so years of his life he didn’t smoke.  He also told us one day that he was diagnosed with diabetes but he didn’t want to have to take insulin so he chose to implement a regular diet and exercise plan to keep his diabetes in check.  Taddese was a very private person and didn’t share a lot about himself with us but he never had a problem with trying to learn about others and become their friends.  He did a great job of welcoming new members into the Clubhouse and befriending them so they would feel comfortable.  It has been very strange to not see him every day and to be greeted by his beautiful smile.  We will miss him at Alliance House and are lucky to have been able to share a piece of his life with him.”


By | 2017-06-05T03:19:31+00:00 July 27th, 2016|Front page, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Expressive Lines – Member Haiku


Damp confusion,

Dance; get soaked.

Heart torn amidst you.


by Nicole



Cute Girl,

Squeaking out loudly

Feeling out her love


by Betsy



Tasty, Fulfilling

Satisfying to Delight

Seeing the life’s future


by Karl



Day 4

Relentlessly pounding headache

Frustrated, paranoid, exhausted, tired


by Hayley


Salt Lake

Two guns

Aimed at head (mine)

Both scare me dreadfully


by Girard