What started as a vacation turned into a lifelong mission for James Wineinger who is giving hope to a struggling Southwest Florida community.
Whether it’s a compliment over coffee or a conversation over plants, James Wineinger has spent nearly three decades fighting the stigma of mental illness.
“I’ve loved working in this field for a long time now,” he said.
After studying psychology, Wineinger wanted to reach out to adults with mental illness and help them reclaim their lives.
“I knew that’s what I wanted, I wanted to help people somehow,” he said. “One of the toughest conditions to address is the idea of social isolation.”
He believes those suffering need more than therapy to re-enter society.
Which is why he opened the doors of Hope Clubhouse in Fort Myers, to develop those key relationships.
He was inspired while on vacation out of state.
“28 years ago, I heard of Fountain House and as a tourist had the chance to go in New York City,” he said.
Now, in the same tradition, Hope Clubhouse welcomes anyone struggling with a mental illness to help with things like education, housing, employment and also wellness.
It’s where Steven Silver, who struggles with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, found his motivation.
“I keep coming back here to hopefully better myself, prove it to myself, prove it to the doctors,” Silver said. “You can tell he does this out of love.”
Wineinger hopes more people will follow his example, seeing someone for what they can do not just their diagnosis.
To learn more about Hope Clubhouse you can visit their website.