On May 1, 2014 on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Pope Francis reminded the world that “Work is part of God's loving plan for humanity”. Since 2000, the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation has been providing grant support to the Carriage House to advance this basic teaching of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, and promote their Sponsor, the Poor Handmaidof Jesus Christ, legacy of service to the most vulnerable.
One of Andy Wilson’s core beliefs that guides him on a daily basis is that “work is good.” For Wilson, his work as the Executive Director begins every day at 7:30a.m. at The Carriage House, Fort Wayne’s Clubhouse Program affiliate, that serves those with chronic mental illness. It is apparent as soon as one steps foot in The Carriage House that it is a community of equals, a feeling that Wilson works hard to foster. The Clubhouse programs practice non-traditional rehab for the mentally ill. It is not insignificant that those who come to get well are called not “patients,” but “members.” In keeping with Wilson’s belief that work is good, the members at The Carriage House work the reception desk, clean the facility, and prepare the meals served there daily for $1. Wilson’s goal is to “set the tone” and maintain a “culture of hope,” as he describes it, by which he and everyone who participates in it, especially its members, “assure that the community is healthy.” The community Wilson oversees is made up of a staff of eight atThe Carriage House and its over 400 active members, as well as their families. Through the dignity of work, the facility allows its members to be needed and, along with their families, to begin to recover their lives. In this way, the community at The Carriage House, Wilson says, is able to truly have a larger effect and “change the world.”
Since 1868, the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation’ s Sponsor, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ have believed in the importance of respecting the dignity of the most vulnerable as well as the importance of meaningful work. Those with mental illness to whom Wilson has dedicated himself are among the most stigmatized in our communities. Simplicity, dignity and respect, and community, three of the core values of the Poor Handmaids, abound at The Carriage House in its mission of healing and rehabilitation to change the world. Wilson makes sure of it. In his words, “God honors humility and kindness.”
Story by Charlie Klingenberger, Communications Intern