Wine soiree to benefit Rising Sun Clubhouse

The gathering place for people with metal illness has a Sunday event planned at Waters Winery.

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When people lift a glass of wine at Waters Winery on Sunday, Kay Maxfield hopes their awareness of mental illness is also raised.

Maxfield, director of Rising Sun Clubhouse -- a social gathering spot for those living with mental illness-- has a lot of dreams for the nonprofit agency. Making those come true could happen one sip of vino at a time, she said.

This particular type of fundraiser, billed as a "Wine Soiree," strays from the yard-sale genre the clubhouse most often uses to bring in much-needed cash. "We haven't had something like this in a long time," Maxfield said.

And "this" promises to be fun. The 3-5 p.m. event features a selection of hors d'oeuvres, wines from Waters Winery, a variety of desserts & key lime and lemon bars, plus iced brownies -- and jazz music. Tickets are $50 per couple, $30 single, available at the door at the winery at 1825 J.B. George Road, or by calling 529-0120.

Ticket sales have been brisk so far, organizers say. Nonetheless, the proceeds are bound to be a mere drop in the bucket, Maxfield explained.

"The most immediate financial need ... we really need a bigger place. When we have 20 people for lunch, we are packed to the gills."

The small building on the corner of Third Avenue and Chestnut Street was built as a gas station in the 1930s and later transformed into a home -- using it as headquarters for both business and member services could be considered "housal" abuse, she added. Everything from electrical outlets to a tiny bathroom to the flooring is overtaxed by today's use.

"Until we have a bigger place, we are never really going to be able to do the things we're supposed to do, have all the wonderful activities to make people want to stick around." And providing those things is an important component of reaching and maintaining state certification.

And keeping people living with mental illness busy and socially engaged is required medicine, experts say.

Maxfield also envisions emulating what she's seen other clubhouses across the state do, and that is buying apartment buildings to end homelessness for the neediest clients.

It's unlikely to happen with one fundraiser, but getting the wish list out there in front of multiple eyes can only help, she said. "Selling 200 tickets is not going to buy us a bigger place but it's a start and you never know when someone is going to become interested."

One in four Americans has some form of mental illness, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates, meaning everyone knows someone impacted by the disease. Yet places like Rising Sun Clubhouse serve clientele largely under the radar, providing meals, job-hunting help, social skill-building and education. A clubhouse offers restoration to lives, Maxfield pointed out.

And she and the Rising Sun board members are not expecting money to just flow their way, even as wine is poured, she emphasized. "Hey, we're out here hustling."

For more information about Rising Sun Clubhouse, go to www.RisingSunClubhouse.org.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/fromthestorageroom.

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