The Uriel House

 

 

by 
The Right Honorable Dame, the Rev.,
Carol S. Anderson, D.O.H.S., D.M.A.
(former) Seneschal of San Jose Bailiwick No. 1

 

Uriel House has received mention several times in connection with the Religious and Military Order of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (RMOKHSJ) San Jose Bailiwick No. 1, but what exactly is Uriel House? What do they do there? And who are they?

Uriel House came to be in June, 1996, the culmination of much hard work and prayer by a dedicated group of people who desired to created a wholesome, healing environment for the dually diagnosed--those with both chemical dependency and mental health issues. Uriel House was fueled by the vision of the Right Hon. Chev. the Most Rev. Michael W. Whitney, G.Cd.H.S., whose dream of providing a spiritually based environment for this under served population provided the drive and inspiration for this project.

Dual diagnosis is a relatively newly recognized population within the mental health community. A percentage of the mentally ill have difficulty adhering to the rigid medication regime necessary to maintain their stability. With some, it is the unpleasant side-effects experienced as a result of certain psychotropic medications which leads to discontinuation. With others, it is simply an inability to remember to take the medications at all. As a result, some will self-medicate with alcohol or street drugs leading to physical addictions in addition to the already existing mental illness. Very few programs are designed to treat both problems, the vast majority are geared for either one or the other. As a result, program staff are not prepared to treat both concurrently, leaving the dually diagnosed client inadequately served. But this is slowly changing....

Enter Archbishop Michael Whitney, who for six years was program director of the only shelter for the homeless mentally ill in the South (San Francisco) Bay area, where he saw first hand the difficulties these clients experienced. He formulated the vision of a dedicated house to specifically serve this needy population. Thus in June of 1996, Uriel House accepted it’s first client.

Total capacity of the House is 11 clients, and most of the time, there is a waiting list for admission. There is also a full time, live in program manager, Rev. Phillip Willette, and a live in cook/handyman.

The House did not spring into being overnight. When Archbishop Whitney initially saw the property, it was in a rather neglected state. Renamed Uriel House, a dedicated group of volunteers, lead by Archbishop Michael and Fr. Phil scrubbed, plastered, and painted, throughout the month of May, working a miraculous transformation in eager anticipation of the first client.

As all this was in progress, a call went out to the community, through the Santa Clara County (California) chapter of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, a nation-wide organization for the families of the mentally ill, for much needed furniture, linens of all types, and kitchenware. The community responded, generously donating more than enough for Uriel House to provide the high quality environment envisioned.

At this point, it becomes necessary to back track to the previous January, and the founding of the San Jose Bailiwick No. 1. This, too, was the culmination of a vision, the vision shared by the Right Excellent Chev. A. Fred Butler, G.Cd.H.S., H.G.H.S. and the Right Hon. the Most Rev. Michael W. Whitney G.Cd.H.S. One of the primary functions of a bailiwick is charitable service. With the establishment of Uriel House, the decision was made for the bailiwick to "adopt" these needy and under served clients as the focus of their service.

Many of the clients have no family or their families no longer have any contact with them due to the nature of their illness/addiction. To date, the knights of the bailiwick have provided much needed spiritual and financial support. As the bailiwick has grown in strength and numbers, so has its support of Uriel House. The chevaliers and dames of San Jose Bailiwick No. 1 look forward to many years of service to the clients of Uriel House.

 

 

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This page created by:  Chevalier A. Fred Butler