Connections - History

The Connections clubhouse was established in July 1990 as part of Mental Health Services of Catawba County. Our first facility was a 2,000 square foot rented house in Hickory. The program began with three staff and an active membership of 20. Both the staff and members went through a one-week clubhouse orientation at Adventure House in Shelby, NC.

In March 1994, we moved into our current facility, a spacious house encomapssing over 5,000 square feet of working space over five acres. By way of a rent-free exchange agreement, the Catawba County Historical Society moved their museum into the old county courthouse in downtown Newton, paving the way for Connections to move into the building formerly occupied by the museum. With a generous contribution of $250,000, we were able to renovate the existing structure and add an adjoining building for our kitchen and dining room. By this time, we had also hired three additional staff.

Connections staff participated in a one-week Transitional Employment Program training session at Gateway House in Greenville, SC during October 1994. Our first TE placement came in December of that year. 1996 saw the addition of a vendorship with Vocational Rehabilitation for Supported Employment services and more staff. Our first certification from the International Center for Clubhouse Development came in 1998, as did our entry into the NC Clubhouse Coalition. The following year we obtained a second VR vendorship, this one for our TE program. In October 1999, we sent a member and staff representative to the 10th International Seminar on the Clubhouse Model in Toronto, Canada.

In May 2000, Connections' social component was expanded to include Thursday evenings and Saturdays to provide the members with more opportunities for socialization. In September of that year, we celebrated our 10th anniversary with our first annual Friends and Family Day. Both active and inactive members, staff members, County Commissioners, Catawba County Mental Health board members and director, SE and TE employers, and friends and family all gathered together to celebrate the difference Connections has made in our lives.

On January 1, 2005, Connections divested from Catawba County and is now a part of the private, non-profit organization, Catawba Valley Behavioral Healthcare. This divestiture was due to major mental health reform in North Carolina.