Behavioral Health: Grand Avenue Club

Health Care Heroes


Grand Avenue Club
210 E. Michigan St., Milwaukee

behavioral-health-01-rachel-forman-tfreundOne in every five people will struggle with mental illness, loss of confidence and isolation at some point in their lives.

The Grand Avenue Club in Milwaukee offers those living with a mental illness a place to come and actively participate as part of a community.

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The Grand Avenue Club is open 365 days a year, including all major holidays, and strives to help members become productive, contributing members of not only the club, but also society.

“Because of GAC programming, people with mental illness move away from social isolation, marginality, fatalism and despair, and the sense that life has little meaning,” said Rachel Forman, executive director. “The club provides Milwaukeeans who have been derailed by mental illness with opportunities that are key to recovery, and a life that is satisfying and vocationally productive.”

Club members receive stimulation, support and opportunities at no cost to them, their families or their public or private health insurance plans.

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Members voluntarily work alongside a small Grand Avenue Club staff to maintain operations of the club year-round. They do light maintenance, run a lending library, clean, assist with financial management, remove snow, serve as board members, prepare lunch and breakfast, publish newsletters, enter data, give tours to visitors and prospective members and conduct orientations, Forman said.

Additionally, the club has established relationships with local employers like Foley & Lardner, Outpost Natural Foods, Derco Aerospace Inc. and Pick ’n Save, and educational institutions including Milwaukee Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where members with an increased sense of self-confidence and purpose can go for transitional jobs or to pursue additional education.

The unemployment rate for adults with mental illness is approximately 80 percent. The Grand Avenue Club continues to prove these individuals can become self-sufficient and valued employees in the local community.

“We are proud that GAC contributes to the enhancement of the Milwaukee community,” Forman said. “GAC members continue to value work and self-sufficiency as a means to standing tall among others. Our members are not only fully integrated into the workforces of our employment partners, but are earning more than $1 million in taxable revenue and have good attendance track records.”

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