22 Feb Staff Profile – Stella Carlson
Newly appointed Hopkins Clubhouse Program Manager Stella Carlson started working at Vail Place on St. Patrick’s Day in 2008 and was hired to develop the Young Adult Program at the Hopkins location. Her experience working with at-risk homeless youth initially attracted her to the role and to Vail Place. Many of the young people she advocated for as a youth worker faced many challenges with mental health support, and she recognized that there was a lack of services in this area. Extensive Program development and focus groups led them to incorporate the program into an inter-generational culture which could bring adults of all age brackets together through the work and relationships of the Clubhouse program.
” I started working as the Social Program Specialist in 2009 and moved into the food service role in the spring of 2013. Having worked within various positions at the Hopkins location, I have been able to understand the program in various capacities, including the facility needs, program vision and our development which continues to shape who we are today,” Stella says. In her new role as Program Manager, Stella and her team have many goals for our Clubhouse, the first being their upcoming accreditation with Clubhouse International this May, which will include a visit with a team of Clubhouse International staff and members. Other goals include the development of work boards, daily and weekly meeting schedules and a new Intake and Orientation process. In addition, Stella will lead the efforts to hire new staff members as Vail Place continues to grow.
Stella says the most rewarding elements of her position are the collaborative and unique relationships that are created in the Clubhouse culture. “To work with the community in partnership, as colleagues, allows for staff to have a profound understanding of members not only as individuals but professionals and partners,” she says. “This type of relationship creates an insight into the needs and abilities of our community as a whole entity. We are able to advocate collectively, speak to and build upon the stories and needs of our whole mental health community. We are always thinking of ways to assist members that are new, returning or have yet to find us. This grassroots work is exhilarating and endlessly moving in new and exciting directions.”
Stella’s interests outside of Vail Place include a love for improvisational theatre and cooking. She also owns a small face & body painting business, and loves to provide these services at Vail Place annual events and children’s events around the Twin Cities. Stella is also a world traveler who looks forward to annual trips outside of the United States. In April of this year she will be be hiking the Inca trail in Peru for four days, and staying in a small village near the Amazon River.
“I have been able to visit Clubhouses in other countries which is a real treat! I always look forward to connecting to the global Clubhouse community. You are able to share ideas and discuss various obstacles within the mental health systems around the world,” Stella says.
When asked for her favorite quote, it’s “Strive for progress, not perfection.”