Dispute leads to early exit for clubhouse director

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WALLA WALLA -- Rising Sun Clubhouse is seeking a new executive director several weeks before scheduled to do so.

Kay Maxfield, who has for six years led the clubhouse that provides a day program for adults living with mental illness, abruptly resigned after a dispute between the clubhouse board.

At issue is a volunteer whom Maxfield credited with helping her out "a great deal" at Rising Sun, but whom board members believed was insulting to those who use the clubhouse.

The volunteer was asked to stop coming to the building on Third Avenue and Chestnut Street by the board and without due process, Maxfield said. "I decided to retire that day ... this sets a bad precedent."

Maxfield -- slated to retire in October -- did leave in protest of their action, confirmed board president Charlie Eichler. However, other volunteers had left the program and members were unhappy because of the situation created by that one volunteer, he added.

Rising Sun is being temporarily headed by Don Nichols and the search is on for a new director. The board would like to hire locally for the half-time position that pays about $20,000 a year.

A new director will need a background in mental health and have strong fundraising and grant-writing skills, Eichler said. Also important will be the ability to help train people for possible job opportunities, he said. "That's the philosophy behind clubhouses."

In the meantime, the agency continues to look for larger space, preferably with a built-in or room for a commercial-style kitchen. The clubhouse serves a lunch to its members and would like to be able to train people for kitchen jobs. Such property needs to be easily accessible to public transportation.

For more information call Eichler at 525-3322 or the Rising Sun Clubhouse at 529-0120.

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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