Friday, January 29, 1999

Few HPU officials attend
Clubhouse opening

By Helen Altonn


Bernie Ostrowski had hoped to see more Hawaii Pacific University colleagues at the grand opening of the Honolulu Clubhouse.

"A whole bunch of us should be here welcoming them," the psychology professor said during the mental health program's celebration yesterday.

Another psychology professor, Howard Markowitz, and some students were there. No HPU administrators responded to the invitations, said Michelle Stanley, who heads the three Oahu Clubhouses.

Helen Varner, HPU vice president of university relations, said she couldn't attend the ceremony because of several conflicts but has visited the program and met with the staff.

She said HPU hasn't changed its opposition to the Clubhouse at Fort Street Mall.

The university went to court unsuccessfully to try to stop the state Health Department from establishing the facility in the old Blaisdell Hotel in the center of the urban campus.

Clubhouse programs work with businesses to train stable people with mental illness for transitional and competitive jobs.

HPU cited concerns about Clubhouse members being a danger to students, affecting enrollment.

Ostrowski said the administration wasn't speaking for the whole faculty and its position was embarrassing for those in social sciences.

Some Clubhouse members are HPU students, and some HPU students do practical studies with the Clubhouses.

"Ironically, we're trying to get social work program approval," Ostrowski said, noting it's the first year of the program.

"How could anybody be against anything like this," he added, as more than 100 guests toured the spacious Clubhouse quarters and enjoyed a program put on by members.

Members and staff of two other Oahu Clubhouses and the Kauai Clubhouse were present to support the newest program.

Varner said HPU has talked to the Clubhouse about its projects. "There are still no resoures or education there. That hasn't changed at all. We're concerned about that. We feel these people would need more preparation for the workplace."

But she said, "We are a corporate good neighbor. We are a downtown university. We will continue to work with them."

The Clubhouse presented a plaque to former Health Director Larry Miike for supporting the Clubhouse despite opposition.

Stanley said members of the seven Hawaii Clubhouses last year earned more than $200,000. She said she hopes the programs can build more partnerships to get more members into jobs.

Jack Yatsko, who heads Friendship House on Kauai, noted that the Honolulu Clubhouse blends into downtown "just like any other business."

Fear, he said, "is a nonexistent issue."

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