Homelessness, Unity, & The Fairweather Lodge
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What is the Fairweather Lodge model and why does it work? Think of employment, family, and autonomy.
Homelessness and mental illness are complicated problems. Even more complicated is the question, “How do we solve them?”
For generations, shelters, organizations, nonprofits, and rehabilitation programs (including Endeavors®) have searched high and low for answers.
For us, the model that has shown tremendous, inspiring, and heartwarming results is The Fairweather Lodge.
A model built for recovery.
The Fairweather Lodge Program is a rehabilitation model that was developed by psychologist George Fairweather in 1963.
Within the Fairweather model, residents of the lodge receive permanent housing, as well as stable employment. In other words, residents not only live together but also work together.
At first, this is done with the help and support of professional, licensed staff. However, as the Lodge residents gain autonomy and experience recovery, the staff is able to slowly decrease their control over the daily operations of the Lodge.
When George Fairweather began testing the model, the results were astounding. Multiple Fairweather Lodges quickly began opening across the country. In fact, the Fairweather Lodge in San Antonio is Endeavors’ longest-running program!
A family-style household.
Without fail, tests on the Fairweather model discovered that patients with mental illness tremendously benefit from active participation in a group or community. Rather than being isolated and treated individually, the creation of a supportive “family” within the lodge is extremely therapeutic.
The model dictates that residents have meaningful roles within the group. Rather than a bunch of individuals living in one facility, members of The Fairweather Lodge are all active members of a larger organism— each with their own important part to play.
“Here at Fairweather, you are treated like a person and not by your illness,” said Glen, a Fairweather resident.
Companionship is crucial.
Relationships are healing.
Fairweather resident Will also names friendships as one of his favorite things about Fairweather Lodge. “I have the best friends I’ve had in the world,” he says. “We talk about everything…rock and roll, the ’60s, politics.” They also create art together.
“Everybody accepted me…that makes all the difference in the world.”
Work is healing.
We strongly believe one of the most empowering things you can give to someone is the opportunity to work hard and see the benefits of that hard work. This is why one of the most important elements of The Fairweather Lodge model is employment— each Lodge should run or participate in a small business that is led by residents themselves.
“If you want to work, Fairweather at Endeavors® will give you the opportunity to work,” said Will. Throughout his twenty-four years with the Fairweather Lodge Program, he has also been named Employee of the Month, Employee of the Year, Client of the Quarter, and Client of the Year.
“I’m presently a crew-leader on one of our janitorial crews,” said Glen. “I’ve made employee of the month two times and to top that off, I made Janitorial employee of the year in 2004. Can you believe that?”
An open-door policy.
The Fairweather Lodge is never forced on anyone. To reside and be employed at Fairweather, it has to be a choice. By empowering residents with choice, we believe they are able to take ownership of their lives and situations at a much higher degree.
Glen saw that change within a year. “Since I came into the program, I have made a complete turnaround,” he said. “The clients and staff were so nice to me. I finally felt I was somebody with a support system and as long as I stayed in the program, that I’d never be alone.”
There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that if it wasn’t for Fairweather, there’s no telling where I’d be.”
“I have to say, from my heart, Fairweather saved my life and I am eternally grateful.”
What about admission & referrals?
If you know someone who may benefit from The Fairweather Lodge at Endeavors, they must fit these criteria:
- 18 years of age or older
- Axis I mental health diagnosis from a licensed professional
- Stable and medication compliant for at least 30 days
- Be able to pay a monthly program fee
- Willing to work, volunteer, or attend school for 15 hours per week
- Remain drug-and-alcohol-free for at least 30 days
What about women, children, and families?
We thought of that, too! Our Fairweather Family Lodge (FFL) is similar to the Fairweather Lodge but set up a bit differently to serve the specific needs of women and children in our community.
The Fairweather Family Lodge serves a vulnerable population of single mothers with disabilities and their children who have experienced chronic homelessness. Families are given access to an array of supportive services (such as intensive case management, mental health services, food, clothing, childcare, life skills training, employment/educational training, parenting classes, and children’s activities).
About Endeavors’ Fairweather Lodge
Located in San Antonio, Fairweather Lodge is Endeavors’ longest-running program and provides permanent supportive housing to individuals with mental illness. Fairweather Lodge not only provides permanent supportive housing, but also case management and life skills training so that individuals with mental illness can achieve a life full of stability, success, and self-sufficiency.
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.