Who We Are
Co-Founders, Elliott and Dianne Steele became interested in creating a facility that would help people living with a serious mental illness when their daughter was diagnosed with schizophrenia. They tried to find something that would help their daughter overcome the problems related to her diagnosis but could not find anything in the state of Florida.
The Steeles formed a Board of Directors, a 501(c)(3) corporation and began to advocate for a community that would dramatically change the lives of Floridians living with a mental illness. They found just what they wanted in the Clubhouse model, a place that provided hope, respect and dignity; a place where participants, called members, could practice work and then become employed in the community when they were ready.
It took nearly three years and endless hours of advocacy; meeting with family members, providers, Department of Children and Families, Agency for Health Care Administration, elected officials, to name a few. The efforts finally came to fruition when the Steeles received a call from the Department of Children and Families in November 2002 that funding to start Vincent House would be available January 1, 2003.
The Steele’s wasted no time looking for a storefront to rent, hiring staff, notifying potential members, finding equipment, furniture and other donated supplies and more. With an ice chest for a refrigerator and a grill for a stove, the doors to Vincent House opened on January 20, 2003.
Less than two years later, Vincent House became the first accredited Clubhouse in Florida, paving the way for more Clubhouses to follow.
From those humble beginnings, a new way to help people living with a mental illness blossomed. Members began to realize their potential and regained their self-confidence. Many became employed with the help of Vincent House while others returned to school. All found a place where they were wanted, needed and valued.
Although the Steeles had professional careers before Vincent House, they will tell you that seeing members’ lives transform from one of hopelessness and despair to a life filled with love, friendship, happiness and employment makes their heart sing.