Bonnie McGuire didn’t interact with North Range Behavioral Health CEO Larry Puttorf every day during the eight years she’d been coming to Frontier House, a Greeley community center that supports mentally ill individuals.
Frontier House, a North Range program, follows a treatment philosophy known as the Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation.
Founded in New York City in the late 1940s and internationally recognized, the concept of Clubhouse Rehabilitation is a non-traditional outpatient approach to managing mental health challenges. The Frontier House and Clubhouse model is based on the belief that individuals can lead normal lives, interact with family and friends and engage in work, while receiving support and services.
Buttorf, who retired as CEO of North Range, brought the Clubhouse philosophy to Greeley as the founding director of Frontier House in 1990—seven years after he joined the organization. Frontier House is Colorado’s oldest clubhouse program.
Pottorff was honored at Frontier House Monday afternoon by dedicating a garden in his name in front of the building at 1407 8th Ave.
“Without his guidance, this place would not exist,” McGuire said. “He has such a heart for society and mental health.”
Frontier House opened its doors on April 1, 1990, in the 1103 Fifth Avenue building near the intersection with 11th Street.
Buttorf was among the leaders of the North Range and Frontier House to speak during the short celebration. In his notes, Pottorff gave credit to the colleagues who were also part of the founding of Frontier House as well as crediting the nearly 14,000 members who participated in the program.
“I’m really grateful for how the club continues to grow,” Buttorff said after the ceremony. “When I left (in 1995), I was committed to it as an important part of the Northern Range. Today, seeing how it has grown and prospered, I am proud of what we have grown into.”
The new garden features a Bottorff-engraved stone surrounded by natural grasses, plants, and flowers that represent Frontier House’s motto as “a place to grow.”
“When others view this park, and honor you there, they may remember the legacy of your impact on the life of this community for years to come,” said Jennifer Euler, North Range’s chief human resources officer.
He succeeded Euler Botturf in 1995 as Director of Frontier House.
“For me, it’s hard to put into words,” Euler said of Buttorf after the concert. “It is about his character. His lifelong sympathy and service to others.”
Among those speaking at Bottorff’s event were Frontier House Program Director Rene Schell, incoming North Range CEO Kim Collins and Frontier House members Clark Pacoe and Ashlyn MacMillan.
McGuire, a 33-year-old Greeley resident, said she works with complex mental health issues including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. McGuire said she is a shy person, and Frontier House has helped her increase her confidence in interacting with others. McGuire said she’s had a rough time recently; Lots of challenges but they are working on solving them.
“I have the backing of this place, and if I didn’t, I don’t know what I would do in my days,” McGuire said.
McGuire said that individuals who come to Frontier House should have a mental health diagnosis and a referral from a therapist.
A component of the Frontier House, and the Clubhouse treatments model, is that members – not called clients – participate in the work at home. This work includes food planning and preparation. McGuire said Frontier House prepares 30-35 meals a day. There are also clerical tasks to be accomplished, such as answering phones, figuring out a budget, and interacting with people.
Bottorff described Frontier House and the club model as a “safe place” where members need, want and are expected to participate. Botturf also said that the model is based on research into its effectiveness, offering improved quality of life, successful employment, and reduced hospitalizations and incarceration of organs.
“It’s more about living, getting a job, making friends, and learning to work through personal challenges in an accepting environment,” Buturff added. “To develop confidence and know they have support in the Clubhouse.”