Cultivating hope and inspiring change to promote mental health recovery

For Ranee and Jim, Vail Place is a family affair

IMG_3233Ranee Sulfridge always laughs when she remembers the first time she entered the building where the Hopkins Clubhouse now resides…her mother, pregnant with Ranee, was visiting her doctor’s office for a checkup there.  Years later the same building would house Vail Place’s Hopkins Clubhouse, a place that has changed Ranee’s life in so many ways. The Clubhouse not only put Ranee on the path to long-term recovery, but also on the path to meet her husband, Jim Sulfridge.

Ranee first found out about Vail Place in the early 1990’s. She had been told she not only had bipolar disorder, but also anxiety, PTSD and ADHD.  However, her first introduction to Vail Place didn’t make a lasting impression, and she wouldn’t return for many years.  During that time Ranee “lived her life” running her own successful cleaning businesses and raising her five children.

But in 2009, Ranee knew she could no longer manage her mental health issues on her own and that she needed more support.  She had met several Vail Place members and decided to give the Hopkins Clubhouse another try. This time things were different.  Ranee embraced the Clubhouse model, jumping in and helping in several different areas.  As she says, “If you want to make your mental health better, you have to do something about it!”

And Ranee is definitely a “doer.” In the years since she became an active Vail Place member, she’s been involved in nearly every aspect of the Clubhouse from running meetings and doing administrative work, to managing the snack bar and helping in the kitchen.  “Either you sit home and isolate and get depressed, or you come to a place where you can meet people, make new skills and get confidence,” says Ranee.

Part of that new confidence may have been in play in 2012, when Ranee met her future husband Jim during a chance encounter just down the street from Vail Place on Main Street in Hopkins. After they began dating, Ranee introduced Jim to Vail Place.

“I learned about Vail Place from Ranee, who had been a member for quite some time,” says Jim. “She realized before I did that I had some issues that I needed to work on and she felt that Vail Place would be good for me.” Jim mentioned to Ranee that he was a recovering alcoholic and also had depression. But he didn’t realize how much his mental health issues were affecting him until he stepped through the Clubhouse doors.

Ranee and Jim married November 23, 2013.  The couple has remained involved in the Clubhouse, though in different ways.

Jim started out helping run the snack bar and doing other small tasks while looking for work.  These days Jim is successful as a Guest Service Attendant at Knollwood Super Target and doesn’t get to visit the Clubhouse as much as he would like. He has, however, helped a lot with fundraising for Tour de Vail over the past two years and is quite the “master” at gathering prizes for the event’s popular raffle.

Ranee, on the other hand, is at the Clubhouse nearly every day. She is active leading the morning and afternoon meetings, and participates in many other activities, including the Vail Place band, the Renovators, as a vocalist. One new job Ranee is very excited about has been joining the new Vail Place Ambassador Program, where she’ll be able to spread the message about mental health.

Ranee and Jim have experienced Clubhouse differently, but both agree that it has changed their lives. For Jim, Vail Place helped him regain confidence as he looked for employment. Clubhouse represented a stepping stone toward a more productive work and personal life.  For Ranee, continued, daily activities at Vail Place have given her a renewed purpose and transformed her into a change agent within the community as well.

We wish this Vail Place couple all the best and thank them for their service!