13 Sep Fiona Finds Comfort at Vail Place
Twenty years ago, Vail Place member Fiona K. could barely will herself to leave the front steps of her home, much less socialize or talk in front of a group of people. That was before she found Vail Place. According to Fiona, Clubhouse has transformed her life and given her the courage to pursue her passions.
“When I got there at the time, I guess you could say I was broken,” Fiona reflects. “But then the first person I met at Vail Uptown was outgoing. Everyone seemed to take an interest in my life.”
This interaction inspired Fiona to start going to the Clubhouse a couple of days per week. From there, her participation blossomed into daily visits as she began forming lasting friendships, exploring crafting, art, writing, theater performance and public speaking, and feeling warmth and acceptance from staff and other members.
“My family found out about Vail Place and grew to love it because it was making me so much happier than I had been, nurturing my interest in writing and my love for public speaking,” she says.
As a result of the confidence she has gained at Vail Place, Fiona has developed an unexpected passion for public speaking. She has participated in several presentations, including several during an International Clubhouse Conference in Toronto.
Fiona also credits Vail Place with helping her through times of grief. After her sister passed away, the staff and members of the Clubhouse were there for her in a significant way, helping her experience her pain and validating her heavy emotions.
“They would come up and visit me. I could call on the staff when I needed to,” says Fiona. “They were a lifesaver, being there, and most of all, listening to my grief and accepting it. They let me cry, they let me grieve. I realized that just because I had grief in my heart doesn’t mean I’m unacceptable.”
Fiona says when her beloved pet bird passed away recently, her friends at the Clubhouse were once again there for her, letting her mourn the loss and demonstrating compassion that she said has been helpful through her grieving.
“They understand the precious bond between people and their animals,” she says. “They’ve been with me since the beginning, and they’re still with me now.”
Fiona believes the reach of Vail Place goes far beyond helping each individual member enjoy a life of value and purpose.
“It’s universal because when one person is in recovery, it affects the people around them. I like to call it the ‘pebble in the pond.’ The rings go out from where the pebble is dropped, and you don’t know how far out it’s going to expand,” Fiona says. “It’s like a garden of delights.”
“Vail Place is my medicine,” she adds.