It’s Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month!

March has been officially proclaimed as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month by Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina, and we’re honored to be part of this crucial initiative!

Developmental disabilities are lifelong conditions that typically arise in childhood and can affect various aspects of an individual’s life, from communication to independent living.

Some examples of developmental disabilities include:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Down Syndrome

It’s staggering to think that approximately 16 million Americans live with developmental disabilities. Nearly 200,000 of these individuals live in North Carolina alone. With developmental disabilities affecting so many people, raising awareness is critical. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure they have access to the resources they need to thrive!

At our Clubhouse, we’re dedicated to empowering those with developmental disabilities to build essential life skills, foster relationships, and take charge of their well-being. Through our programs, we create a supportive environment where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential!

This month, we challenge you to take a moment to think about how you can make a difference in the life of someone with a developmental disability. Together, let’s work towards a more inclusive society where everyone is valued and supported!

To read Governor Cooper’s proclamation, click here.

For more information about Thrive’s Clubhouse Day Program, click here.

To learn more about developmental disabilities, visit some of the resources below:

Behavioral Healthcare in Hendersonville – What are your options?

How is your mental health these days? I bet if someone asked you that question, you would probably have quite a lot to say on the subject. I would also guess that your answer may change from day to day, and maybe even moment to moment. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown everyone for a loop and brought to light many challenges in most of our daily lives. For some folks, mental health has really been difficult to maintain since the onset of the pandemic and the many stressors that have come along with it.

At Thrive, our main focus is mental health. We believe that it is really difficult to be successful in many areas of life if your mental health is suffering, so we work hard to help our clients get the mental healthcare they need. One thing we are seeing since the pandemic started, is an increase across the board in people who report symptoms of mental illness. Prior to the pandemic, the number of people who reported symptoms of mental illness each year was about 1 in 5, or 20%. Throughout 2020, that number increased to 30% of people reporting symptoms of mental illness. More people are struggling than ever before, which is totally understandable when you consider the conditions we have been living with for the past year and a half. The question becomes, then, what can be done to improve people’s mental health?

Thrive offers help for people with severe and persistent mental illness at our Clubhouse Day Program. This program has been providing mental health services in Henderson County since 1983, and the program has helped hundreds of people to move from surviving to thriving in the community. At the Clubhouse, staff work side-by-side with members with a focus on “doing with” rather than “doing for.” Clubhouse staff know how important it is for members to have a voice and a say in the day-to-day decisions. At the Clubhouse, members work to improve vocational skills, learn daily living skills like cooking, and learn how to have healthy relationships. Members experience fewer hospitalizations and law enforcement contacts as a result of attending the Clubhouse.

While the Clubhouse is great for some people, it isn’t the right fit for everyone who is experiencing symptoms of mental illness. Thrive is so thankful for our community partners who also offer people help with mental healthcare, like AdventHealth. AdventHealth offers both in-patient and out-patient treatment options for behavioral healthcare in our community, which means that patients can easily access the level of care they need to be well.

At AdventHealth, there is a focus on Whole-Person Care – body, mind and spirit. On the website,, you will see many references to Whole-Person Care as they describe the many services offered to strengthen the body, mind, and spirit and encourage overall wellness. The behavioral health care services offered at AdventHealth are extensive. There are options for individual, group, and family therapy, pediatric and geriatric psychiatric services, relaxation therapy, therapeutic crafts, and many others. They have psychiatrists and psychologists available and they offer in-patient and out-patient services for behavioral health. They also offer Primary Care Behavioral Health which provides seamless access to behavioral health care for patients who share concerns with their primary care providers. Primary care providers, who often have a long-term and trusted relationship with their patients, can play a key role in assessing the need for and providing behavioral health interventions.

In August, AdventHealth expanded this collaborative care to even more patients through a partnership with Concert Health. AdventHealth Hendersonville was a pilot for this program. “It has been a dream come true to embed this facet of patient care within our offices,” said Kelley Singer, MD, director of physician quality and physician enterprise for AdventHealth Hendersonville. “Patients visibly relax with relief as they learn behavioral health professionals practice within the same location. The willingness to engage with our psychiatrists or psychologists is almost 100% now, contrasting with almost never in the past.”

Hendersonville is so lucky to have multiple options for mental health care available in our very own community, but we have to spread the word! It is crucial that we ensure people actually know about their options for mental health. We need to make sure that people know who they can call if they need help or if they are concerned about the mental health of a loved one. Share the information; talk about it with your friends and family. Let’s normalize mental health care, so that anyone who needs help knows who to call and is not afraid to ask for help when they need it.

AdventHealth – A Great Community Partner to Thrive!

The staff and board members at Thrive are getting ready for our biggest fundraiser of the year – 9th Annual Bids & Blues on October 12. This year has been a very strange one with COVID and all sorts of events being cancelled or made virtual. Thrive has decided to make this event in-person, but a Drive-In where people can come and listen to music from their car. Thrive staff are very excited that we have found a way to keep this event in-person, but still safe for the people attending, and we have all been hard at work to find sponsors for the event and raise funds for Thrive’s essential programs.

Thrive is so incredibly thankful that our presenting sponsor for Bids & Blues will again be AdventHealth. When asked why AdventHealth has chosen to support Thrive at the highest level yet again, Assistant to the President, Graham Fields, replied with the following quote:

“AdventHealth is honored to partner with Thrive to address Behavioral Health needs in Henderson County. This growing whole-person care need was identified as a top priority in the AdventHealth Community Health Needs Assessment. In addition to serving clients through our inpatient Women’s Behavioral Health unit and outpatient behavioral health clinics, AdventHealth also partners with Thrive to enhance the county’s community-based mental health system to fully support relationship-based, personalized care and maintain services for the chronically mentally-ill in the area. Thrive also helps address another priority in the Community Health Needs Assessment through its efforts to connect clients to safe and affordable housing in the community.”

We at Thrive are so humbled by these words, and we are so thankful that we have a partner like AdventHealth Hendersonville to help us work toward better mental health in Henderson County. Many people do not realize how extensive the incredible mental healthcare services are at AdventHealth. AdventHealth Hendersonville offers both inpatient and outpatient Behavioral Health services, including care specifically for patients of their Primary Care Providers. Through this innovative model of care, AdventHealth’s Primary Care Behavioral Health Providers work with the established patient’s primary care provider for those who are 18 and older and experience behavioral health concerns, including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis.

Many of the individuals who receive behavioral health care at AdventHealth Hendersonville also attend the Thrive Clubhouse – a day program for adults with severe and persistent mental illness. At the Clubhouse, members can get help with daily living skills, relationship skills, and work skills. The services members receive at the Clubhouse work hand-in-hand with behavioral healthcare services from AdventHealth Hendersonville to provide that whole-person care that Fields mentioned.

AdventHealth Hendersonville has some unique inpatient care options, including a behavioral health unit dedicated to women only, ages 18 and older. AdventHealth’s Women’s Behavioral Health Unit offers all private, newly renovated rooms and a variety of treatments including:
Dual Diagnosis/ Drug Addiction
Anxiety and panic attacks
Bipolar disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Grief and loss
Dissociative identity disorders
Sexual abuse issues

Another amazing offering from AdventHealth is the Inpatient Geriatric Behavioral Health unit, which is currently being renovated. This service offers a full range of behavioral and mental health services to assist older adults ages 55+ through the difficult circumstances that many aging adults face. Treatment includes individual and group therapy as well as medication management to improve the patients’ ability to live independently or function comfortably in an institutional setting. Because many older adults with behavioral or cognitive disorders also suffer physical distress, the Geriatric Behavioral Health program at AdventHealth offers a comprehensive assessment of medications, physical and psychiatric diagnoses and assessment of functional abilities.

Thrive would like to say thank you, once again, to AdventHealth Hendersonville for their continued support as the presenting sponsors of the 9th Annual Bids & Blues. If you would like to attend this exciting event, purchase your tickets today. Find more information about Bids & Blues at

To learn more about AdventHealth’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Services, please call 828-650-8232. For information about our Inpatient Behavioral Health Services, please call 828-681-2288.

A Clubhouse Success: Mike’s Story


Mike, a Thrive participant, experienced depression symptoms for a few years but was able to “get it together.” He did not want to seek help and believed that others would look down on him if he was truthful about his symptoms. He maintained a profitable business as a tattoo artist for 25 years. Over that time his mental health symptoms worsened. He experienced increased depression and what he describes as “incapacitating anxiety.” He didn’t know where to turn for help and he felt that he was useless to his family.

He began self-medicating and as a result, lost his job. His marriage ended and his ex-wife obtained custody of their two children. Mike was hospitalized and felt so hopeless that he attempted to end his life at the hospital. Upon discharge, he found that he had nowhere to live and no one to turn to. Mike began living at a shelter and was linked to Thrive Clubhouse services in 2013, where his recovery truly began.


SONY DSCSince that time, Mike has moved into independent housing that is safe and affordable. He has had two successful transitional employment placements, reconnected
with his children, and started taking art classes again. Mike is enjoying reconnecting with his artistic activities and offered to let us display some of his recent watercolor paintings. We believe Mike is an accomplished artist and we were thrilled when he agreed to share his story and his artwork with us for this article.

Mike is just one of the individuals that Thrive has supported this year. The change in his life could not have happened without the generosity of our supporters! Please consider making a donation to enrich the lives of individuals living with mental illness.

Important Upcoming Changes to Thrive

Thrive Services to Change This Year with a Major Focus on Service to Adults with Mental Illness via the Clubhouse

Local nonprofit will continue to remain an independent nonprofit in Henderson County.

Hendersonville, NC (6/25/2015) – Thrive recently received notification from Smoky Mountain LME/MCO regarding a phasing out of their Assertive Community Treatment Team services. By the end of 2015, Thrive will no longer be able to provide these services, per their contract with Smoky Mountain LME/MCO. Executive Director Kristen Martin, while saddened by this news and the potential impact it will have on their clients, has issued a statement to the community that addresses current and future services offered by Thrive.

“The Clubhouse has been serving mentally ill adults since 1983, bridging an important gap in mental health services in Henderson County. Thrive formally organized in 2006, but for over 20 years has been focused on assisting individuals who are experiencing mental health symptoms get back on their feet, via programs that provide opportunities to learn coping, social, independent living, and vocational skills. We will continue to fill this gap through our Clubhouse, meeting our clients where they are and serving them in the best environment possible. We are grateful for the support our community has shown us over the years and we look forward to remaining an independent, sustainable nonprofit. We will work with our ACTT clients and Smoky Mountain to ensure a smooth transition of our ACTT clients to a new service provider.”

Thrive is going to remain an independent non-profit serving adults living with mental illness in our community. They will continue to provide the majority of their services through the Clubhouse in Hendersonville and encourage the community to join them this fall for their annual Bids & Blues fundraiser to be held September 13 at the Cove at Highland Lake. “Bids & Blues is our signature event completely focused on raising funds to support the Clubhouse. This year, more than ever, we ask the community to rally behind us to keep the Clubhouse open and thriving for the clients who need us most,” said Martin.

Local community leaders have already begun to hear this news and are voicing support for Thrive. “Hendersonville is known as a friendly, welcoming, caring community. That caring attitude extends to those of our citizens who are living with mental illness. Thrive is able to provide needed services, at a reasonable cost, in the community. Their clients can get the services they need at the Clubhouse-close to home and with people who care about them and their families,” said Barbara Volk, Mayor of Hendersonville.

Wear Your Label, Fashion Duo Tackles Mental Health Stigma

“A year ago, we were just two students in university living with mental illness. Stigma kept us from getting better, and reaching out. It wasn’t until we began talking about our experiences that we realized the need to create more conversations.” 

This quote could have been taken from any of the countless students living and dealing with mental health issues while also balancing work, school and, well… life.  This particular quote comes from the Canadian fashion-loving duo, Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed, two young entrepreneurs determined to spark – and keep lit – the conversation about mental health.

MacNevin and Reed met while studying at the University of New Brunswick and became friends under perhaps slightly less-than-common circumstances.  They didn’t meet in a statistics study group, or in the same residence hall, or at a football tailgate; these two met through a youth mental health outreach initiative.  Here, they came to the profound conclusion that young people need to be able to open up and shamelessly talk about their mental health needs. Both MacNevin and Reed have personal experiences with mental illness – one struggled with an eating disorder, the other with social anxiety.  They helped each other learn how to comfortably and openly talk about their voyage through the struggle.  Now, they want to share their experiences and their vision with the world.

Using their combined fashion expertise, MacNevin and Reed launched a start-up company called Wear Your Label, a clothing company with clever slogans like “Stressed but Well Dressed” and “Sad but Rad”.  They donate 10% of profits to mental health projects and, to date, have given about $4K!  They have also become advocates in the mental health world, speaking at various locations to share their story.  The goal behind their innovative brand is to stop the stigma that regrettably too often comes along with a diagnosis.

Wear Your Label - Tag pic

One of the coolest things about this brand is perhaps the part of the clothing that you don’t see.  Inside each garment is a tag that, rather than stating standard care instructions (“machine wash cold, lay flat to dry”), it gives some care for yourself instructions (“40% stretch, breathe, meditate; 30% sip tea & eat well; 15% feel your feet, be present; 10% laugh out loud; 5% listen to an awesome song”).  These suggested coping techniques are meant to be self care reminders for when the wearer is experiencing a mental health symptom, such as anxiety or depression.  Because, as the t-shirt states, “Self Care Isn’t Selfish”.

MacNevin and Reed hope their message can help to prevent tragedies like the numerous recent cases of students who have taken their own lives, many of whom never talked openly about their inner struggle.  This original way to say, “It’s okay to not be okay” can be a conversation starter and may help young people to be more open with parents, friends and classmates about their mental health needs.

So what can you do to start the conversation? You can reach out to someone who is having a hard time; you can share your story, a smile, or a cup of tea; you can listen without judgment, and share without fear of being judged.  One in four people will experience a diagnosable mental illness each year.  You are not alone.

For more information on Wear Your Label, go to 


Pro Bono Work, Invaluable to Non Profits and the Under Served

pro bono publico (adverb & adjective):  “for the public good”; denoting work undertaken for the public good without charge, especially legal work for a client with a low income.

Pro bono work can be a mutually beneficial exchange between an attorney and a person in need of legal help who, perhaps, cannot afford it.  It can present opportunities for young lawyers to bolster their experience and add to their resumes; ideally helping them to become better lawyers in the long-run.  Law firms can use pro bono work to offer practice to their less experienced associates.  Or, it can simply be a way for a person in the legal profession to give back to her or his community.

A Chicago lawyer represents ex-offenders as she believes that crime in her city is on the rise, in part, due to the fact that those with a past criminal record are deliberately being kept out of the job market.  She believes that if there are no opportunities available to these people, desperation may find them walking back through the revolving door of a life of crime.  She works to help expunge records and file the sometimes daunting paperwork with the courts.  This lawyer does this work pro bono, for free.

An advocacy program in New York assisted a young girl on the autism spectrum to find an appropriate and accepting school for her needs.  She was initially placed in a school that only allowed her to attend classes for two hours each day and required her mother to remain in the building while the girl was there.  The school refused to allow her to attend school for the entire day and eventually placed her in a class designed for children with more severe autism than what this young lady had.  This program assisted the family in finding a specialized school where the girl is now thriving.  They did this work pro bono.

In 2013, The Connecticut Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section (CBA YLS), in collaboration with the Connecticut Pro Bono Network, participated in the $1 Million Pro Bono Service Campaign, which would amount to about 4,000 hours of free work in a three month period.  The Campaign was a huge success and actually clocked in $2.1 million worth of pro bono work which was closer to 8,800 hours of work performed. Nearly 50 individuals and organizations participated.

We at Thrive are so very fortunate to have clients who have received pro bono assistance from local attorney, Anderson Ellis.  Mr. Ellis has swiftly and skillfully assisted clients with some complicated legal matters.  One such situation found a client needing to obtain his birth certificate in order to obtain a state ID; however, to our dismay, we found that we could not obtain his birth certificate without his state ID.  We were faced with a Catch-22.  When we reached out to Mr. Ellis regarding the matter, he was kind and eager to assist.  Sometimes it just takes that extra push from a professional who knows the system.  Why does he choose to assist Thrive? 

“I volunteer my time with Thrive because it is important to help those that struggle to help themselves. If my knowledge of the legal system can assist someone who otherwise might be lost, it is my privilege to contribute some of my time to help. The work that Thrive does is admirable, and I’m happy to be just a small part of it.” – Anderson Ellis

An American Bar Association study showed that about 40% of low-to-moderate income households will experience a need for legal help each year.  We are writing this message to thank all of the lawyers out there who donate their time and expertise, and, especially, to say thank you to Mr. Anderson Ellis.

Do you have wellness in your private life?

I recently took a brief break from emails and social media and I found that I was able to think more critically when not inundated with all of the spam mail, advertisements, and status updates.  I was struck that we don’t really have a private life anymore, at least not one that we spend time growing and improving.

Our culture demands transparency and social sharing.  This often leads us to compare ourselves to our social network friends.  There used to be a time when we met in person with our friends and family and looked each other in the eye and discussed what we wanted out of life, what we needed to do to achieve that, and received wisdom from those who had gone before us.  Don’t get me wrong, social media has its place and who doesn’t like to get all those Happy Birthday posts from your entire friend list?!

Author Gordon MacDonald wrote “Ordering Your Private World” where he identifies your inward character as your private world.  How can we really increase our wellness if we are so focused on everyone else’s status update?  Our status updates tend to be the highlights of our life… what race we just completed, what fabulous meal we just devoured, what trip we just took, etc.  Is that really wellness?  We may think that those activities show wellness but I would contend that the private times with our family and friends really show how well we are.

If we are dissatisfied, fearful, lonely, argumentative, or just have trouble connecting with anyone on a deep level then we need to change something.  I won’t pretend to know what each reader may be experiencing, but I challenge you to look at your own life and your own character to determine what you need to grow.

coffee dateSocial media can provide encouragement and can help you stay connected to people that live far away from you, but it also provides much distraction. We forget to look each other in the eye, go on a walk with your best friend, play a board game with your children, or simply hold your spouse’s hand while watching the sun set.

What are you willing to give up to reconnect with your friends, family, character, and private life?

I need a vacation.

stressedoutI need a vacation” is often the first statement out of our mouths when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. How do you deal with stress? Do you grab that extra bite of chocolate? Exercise? Hang out with a friend? Take medications? Have an alcoholic drink?
There are plenty of resources available to find ways to cope and manage stress. Some of them are healthy and some unhealthy. Moderation is key in all forms of managing stress. For example, eating a couple bite sized candy bars would be healthier than having an entire chocolate bar.

Continue reading “I need a vacation.”