• Brandy O'Brien

Forum House accepts generous donation

Updated: Jul 10

Forum House representatives accepted a generous annual donation from the Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival committee on Thursday, June 13, at the Holyoke Council on Aging in Holyoke, Massachusetts. The committee presented clubhouse personnel with an oversized check for $15,000, proceeds earned from last year’s event. Approximately 25 people, including VIABILITY President/CEO Dick Venne, other VIABILITY staff, Forum House members, and 22News attended the event in the upstairs recreation room at 291 Pine St.


From left: Regional Clubhouse Director for Forum House, Odyssey House, and Lighthouse Sally English, Forum House member John, and Peter Langmore, of the Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival Committee, stand with an oversized check made out to the clubhouse for $15,000 on June 13 at the Holyoke Council on Aging at 291 Pine St.

“On behalf of VIABILITY and Forum House, I can’t thank you enough for your generosity and support,” said Dick. “We’re happy to be a beneficiary, and we’re happy to participate and help out at the festival.”


Sally English, regional clubhouse director for Forum House in Westfield, Massachusetts; Odyssey House in Holyoke, Massachusetts; and Lighthouse in Springfield, Massachusetts; agreed and spoke of the tremendous relationship between the festival committee and Forum House members, who regularly volunteer at the annual event manning the pub and helping to assemble tents. She said it’s no small feat and takes approximately 35 Forum House members to adequately do the task they perform each year.


“Every year, we talk about how incredible it is, this partnership we have with the Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival to be able to work together to do this,” Sally said. “One of the cool things about Forum House is we are a clubhouse model and we actually decide how we spend the money every year … it’s really a way for us to do a lot of extra stuff that we may not otherwise.”


Forum House is one of VIABILITY’s six clubhouses located throughout the state. The mission of the program is to support individuals living with the effects of mental illness. Clubhouse staff and peers work together in pursuits to find and attain employment, permanent housing, education, and feel comfortable in social situations. Clubhouses are accredited by Clubhouse International and CARF International. Formerly known as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, CARF provides recognition and recommendations for best practices in the health and human service industry.


John, a member of Forum House since 1994, regularly volunteers at the Scottish festival and said he enjoys interacting with the community, listening to the music, and watching people enjoy themselves.


“The festival enables us to receive money, which helps us ‘get it done,’” John said referring to the festival volunteer crew motto of “Have fun, but get it done.” “One of the coolest things about receiving this money, is we all get together to figure out where to spend the money and everyone can give ideas.”


After last year’s donation, Forum House purchased 350 shirts to wear and promote at the celebration of Westfield’s 350th anniversary in May. New computers were also purchased for the clubhouse’s employment and education units. Additionally, members and staff attended Clubhouse International’s annual conference in Bethesda, Maryland, and the funds paid for their travel and other expenses. Funds were also used to upgrade the Forum House facility and gardens.


Peter Langmore, festival committee chairman, said the event began 25 years ago as a one-time event to raise money for a church. The fair was so successful, they continued to host it. Forum House has participated in the festival for 17 years and received $94,000 in donations in that time.


This year’s event will be held at Look Park in Northampton, Massachusetts from 9am to 5pm on Saturday, July 20, rain or shine. Tickets are $18 for adults, $5 for children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old, and free for children younger than 6 years old. Parking is free. The festival will feature performances by Albannach, Enter the Haggis, and Tartan Terrors. It will offer athletic and dance competitions, Celtic music, and Scottish food and imports. For more information, go to glasgowlands.org


To see 22News’s coverage of Thursday’s event, go to https://www.wwlp.com/news/glasgow-lands-scottish-festival-committee-presents-local-non-profits-with-checks/


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