Amy Kirkpatrick, 44, of Randolph, stumbled into a job at the Capitol Clubhouse 16 years ago because she had an interest in psychology. She is now director of the institution and has helped numerous adults with mental illness find jobs and build meaningful relationships.

Clubhouses, of which there are about 300 in 34 countries, are non-clinical, vocational rehabilitation programs for adults with mental illness. They provide members opportunities to build relationships and gain skills to help them combat the setbacks from living with mental illness.

“People come here, and they’re treated as a person,” Kirkpatrick said. “Recovery happens through relationships and meaningful work.”

Kirkpatrick has family members who are affected by mental illness and that inspired her to work to give those with mental illness as many chances to succeed as possible.

“I want to make sure that everybody here has the same opportunities,” she said. “We want everybody here to be happy, healthy (and) well-respected.”

Assistant Director Valerie Hunt said Kirkpatrick goes above and beyond her assigned duties on a regular basis, even picking up members on her way to work each morning and making changes to the layout of the building to be more inclusive.

“She put multiple work stations in (her office) and … got rid of a private bathroom,” Hunt said. “It’s stuff like that that makes a huge difference, it makes (members) feel like they are accepted, and that’s something that (some members) have never felt.”

Hunt also said Kirkpatrick is a staunch advocate for members, routinely going to meetings with them to make sure they are represented thoughtfully.

“She will go to bat for members,” Hunt said. “She’s gone to court with members, (Department of Health and Social Services) and social security.

“If a member is in need, she will drop everything to be with them in the moment.”

Cautious of taking too much praise for herself, Kirkpatrick said her role is supported by her “dedicated staff team.”

“My staff team is the best and works tirelessly to make sure members have opportunities while keeping up with mounds of (work),” Kirkpatrick said. “They put in extra time without complaining, work holidays and have to deal with me … which can be a job itself.”

Hunt said Kirkpatrick is all about “we” in terms of praising the clubhouse.

“She is very humble, and she is all about the team effort,” Hunt said.

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