Do More Good | Fountain House
“Fountain House has literally saved tens of thousands of lives. Its program is a beacon of hope for those living with mental illness who are too often consigned to lives of homelessness, imprisonment, social stigma and isolation.” – Steven M. Hilton, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Fountain House traces its roots to the late 1940s at Rockland State Hospital in Orangeburg, New York. Six patients formed a group that met in a hospital “club room” where they shared their stories, read, painted and participated in social functions. All believed they could offer each other support in life’s challenges and sustain their social community. They hoped that their successful recovery would gradually change society’s perception of people living with mental illness, leading to broader understanding and a reduction in stigma.
Soon after leaving Rockland, the group met on the steps of the New York Public Library to re-create the respectful and supportive environment they had formed in the hospital, addressing the central problem for people living with serious mental illness today – social isolation. In 1948, with help from their supporters, they bought a building in New York City. The fountain that adorned the “Clubhouse” garden at West 47th street represented both hope and rejuvenation and inspired the name “Fountain House.”
Fountain House has since expanded in both Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as acquiring a farm in New Jersey, and has served thousands of individuals, known as “members,” living with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. It’s a place for members to come to contribute their talents, learn new skills, access opportunities, and build friendships. Alongside staff, members operate award-winning social interventions in the areas of employment, education, wellness and housing, and work as partners to perform the functions that keep the community going.
Fountain House has lived on the cutting edge of innovation, relentlessly developing ways to improve the lives of its members. An example of this commitment to innovation is the organization’s social enterprise program, which creates alternative employment opportunities and encourages entrepreneurship among members. Through innovative and entrepreneurial ventures, members learn industry-specific skills that are transferable in the marketplace. For example, Fountain House + Body creates and sells eco-friendly products ranging from bamboo toothbrushes and handmade dish-brushes, to organic cotton towels and glass water bottles. The SoHo storefront was recently featured on NY1 Spectrum News: This SoHo Store’s Feel Good Mission Starts with its Employees.
For more than 70 years, Fountain House has “Done More Good” by empowering people with serious mental illness to live and thrive in society and is now the most widely replicated evidenced-based model for people living with mental illness in the world with over 300 model programs serving more than 100,000 people throughout the US and in more than 30 countries.