The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday May 20th

Thrift Store Opens To Benefit Patients

It is also a place where people with mental illnesses can find a job.

The store, located at 103-D W. Main St. in Carrboro, opens today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon.

Club Nova, founded in 1987, is a nonprofit group that works for the benefit of mentally ill patients in Orange County. Nova operates on a "clubhouse" basis, which affords members not just a place to stay while they deal with their illnesses but a place to return should they need more assistance.

Melanie Hobden, a staff member of Club Nova, said the idea for the thrift shop is not new, just modified.

"We've had a variation of the thrift shop for years, but it was only open to members of the club," Hobden said. "The store is now open to the general public."

Hobden said the general public thrift store was conceived after the success of several yard sales hosted by the club.

"We started the yard sales back in '95," she said. "The club possesses two facilities, the main area and then what is now the thrift store. We just needed to use that space for something."

Rep. David Price, D-Orange, is slated to attend today's ceremony. Hobden said Price actually helped the thrift shop make it to its grand opening day.

"We received a $250,000 grant that would not have been possible without David Price," she said.

Club Nova allows mental health patients to live and work within their system. The work force is divided into units, and each new member to the club must select a unit to join upon arrival. Club Nova houses offices, a kitchen and a dining/meeting room, as well as 11 apartments for members.

Club staff assist members in finding work and adjusting to life in the outside world when the residents are ready to move on.

"We have our own transitional work program," Hobden said. "We're very supportive when someone can't work. We're like a stepping stone."

Hobden said there is no standard Club Nova member -- people with all types of mental illness seek refuge there.

"We generally see people when they're nearly well," she said. "In terms of employment, we have a lot of people on all levels of disability."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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