By Nancy Beadle
Wendy Abrahamson, director, left, and Julia Enderle, activities coordinator, third from right, with members of the Oak House as they are leaving for a Toledo Mud Hens game June 19.
Tucked away on the east end of Port Clinton, Oak House is a little known jewel of a place. It is a non-judgmental, safe haven for adults recovering from mental illness. This is a place where all kinds of interesting, challenging and fun things take place.
In just one month all these might be on the calendar: celebrating birthdays with cake and karaoke, painting beach scenes, doing exercises, watching a movie complete with popcorn, competing in Wii bowling and taking a trip to a place like the Toledo Botanical Garden. Each month’s calendar is crammed full of things to do and places to go, all planned by Activities Coordinator Julia Enderle. She says, “We’ve come to embrace members as one family. They always feel welcomed and wanted.”
Oak House members come from all over Ottawa and Erie Counties to make friends, socialize, and gain skills through opportunities they find here. Jeannie said she likes to come here where you can be yourself, meet friends and learn and grow. She likes the outings and trips, and she especially likes doing art projects.
Ted enjoys many of the offerings at Oak House. He likes being a karaoke deejay once a month. He likes the history and culture presentations, many of which Ted himself presents. He has given programs on the history of ice cream and the South Pacific Islands. In August he will tell about the history of the potato chip. Ted is an avid reader. He is currently reading Civil War women’s diaries.
Jamie gives an outstanding nature program each month. A recent one on elephants and their plight was not only informational but very moving. Her programs are always well researched and interesting.
Oak House members participate in a variety of interest group such as walking, bowling at a local alley, a book club and support groups such as Schizophrenics Anonymous. Members serve the community by keeping trash picked up along a two-mile stretch of a local road.
One corner of the attractive clubhouse is dedicated to a well-stocked food pantry which is free to members. It operates five days a week, Monday through Friday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m.
Lunch in the Acorn Café is always a highlight of each day. Cook Bob prepares delicious hot lunches in the well-appointed kitchen. Most days a choice of delicious desserts from the bakery shelves of the food pantry makes for a sweet ending. Members pitch in to help set up and clean up after the meal.
Volunteers lend a hand with some of the Oak House programs. Lynn Smith is creative with crafts. She comes up with great ideas for unique items, some of which will be found for sale at a local church’s biennial fall bazaar. Lynn oversees production of these crafts also.
The Book Club is currently reading The Giver by Lois Lowry. Nancy Beadle leads these weekly sessions. Members are looking forward to the movie based on this book, to be released in August.
Director Wendy Abrahamson oversees all aspects of the Oak House operation. She models the motto Working Together to Overcome by her tireless energy, her hard work, her devotion and her daily example. About Oak House, Wendy says, “Oak House is a wonderful clubhouse for all who suffer from mental illness. There are numerous activities and trips to enjoy along with non-judgmental socialization and fun.”
Oak House is located at 1819 E. State Road, Port Clinton, on the curve at the end of Buckeye Boulevard. Hours are 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. Visitors are always welcome to stop by and say hello or to stay a while and visit. Funding is provided by the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties and United Way of Ottawa County. Due to recent cuts in funding from these sources Oak House relies more heavily on donations from the community.