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Clubhouse participant achieves goal; Robert to serve on Human Rights Advisory Committee

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Robert recently received news that just might make his whole year. The Star Light Center (Florence, Massachusetts) participant learned he’ll soon be appointed to the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s (DMH) Human Rights Advisory Committee for the 2020-2023 term.

Robert holds his acceptance letter from Joan Mikula, commissioner of Massachusetts’s Department of Mental Health, appointing him to Human Rights Advisory Committee for a three-year term.

Robert will officially swear in Dec. 12, but was first recommended to the group in January 2019 by a committee member and associate from his paid peer advocacy position. In the months that followed, Robert had spoken with the group via conference calls and meetings.

"I studied the human rights information and did what was needed of me. I was confident I would get the position,” said Robert. “I’m very excited and happy about this opportunity. I want to advocate for the human rights of other people and help people in other ways.”

As part of the committee, Robert will travel to Boston once a month from his Easthampton home to advocate for the rights of individuals served by DMH. He will discuss issues, policies, and procedures, ensuring they support DMH clientele. The committee reports to DMH Commissioner Joan Mikula.

“Our community is very proud of Robert being asked to serve on the Human Rights Advisory

Committee,” said Evan Kreke, Star Light Center program director. “Robert is always willing to contribute his time and efforts to the advancement of social justice issues. He is a critical thinker and someone that we value at our clubhouse.”

Robert has been a member of Star Light Center for nearly nine years. The clubhouse is one of VIABILITY’s six clubhouses located throughout Massachusetts. The mission of the program

is to support individuals living with the effects of mental illness. Clubhouse staff and peers

support each other in pursuits to find and attain work, education, and feel comfortable in social situations. Robert said he came to the clubhouse for vocational and socialization support, and found per-diem work. Now, he wants a full-time job.

“Keep at it,” Robert said when reflecting upon the time and perseverance it took to reach his goal.