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I grew up in Louisiana (“Cajun country,” though I’m not Cajun). I remember both not liking Cajun music, and deciding I was “not a dancer” after a brief attempt to learn to dance.
I moved to Berkeley to go to grad school in computer science. Years later, working in Silicon Valley doing software development, I was bored and bit of a funk at work. I wanted to do something more people-oriented, and volunteered for the suicide hotline in Santa Clara County. That was my first exposure of any depth to people with mental health issues. I realized both that people were often a lot unhappier than they looked on the surface - some of our clients were very high-functioning, yet were depressed, anxious, or had other big things going on inside. It really changed how I viewed other people.
Soon after this (mid-30’s), I discovered contra dancing, and fell in love with it - it was easy, welcoming, and a great endorphin high. Over the years, I branched out to other kinds of dancing, and even performed with an amateur group doing traditional American dances (clogging, swing, etc.). I was always intrigued with the “Dancing with the Stars” concept, but not being a “Star”, never thought anything would come of it, until I was invited to do this by my friend Aram Boyd.
I’ve known Aram from my men’s group, the East Bay Circle of Men, for over 10 years. A big part of what we do is support each other - personally and through our families and communities. So, when I heard his and Paula’s story, and what the Putnam Club has done for them, I really wanted to help out. Also - this is a personal challenge for me as well - I’ve performed dance before, but working with a pro to develop a choreography, and performing it with a partner in front of a big crowd (including lots of friends!), is way beyond anything I’ve done before.
Finally - I’ve had my own experiences with depression and anxiety over the years - personally, as well as with friends and hotline clients, and realize how difficult it can be to successfully deal with these problems. The Putnam Club’s hands-on approach can make a big difference when just medication and/or therapy isn’t enough. So, this is my way of helping them help others.
Retired Software Developer
I grew up in the suburbs of southern Connecticut, not far from the train line to Manhattan. Think “Leave It to Beaver,” and you won’t be far off the mark. I studied film and literary theory at East Coast schools, and after a brief stint in New York book publishing, I hightailed it to Berkeley, seeking a different pace of life. I found that pace working at UC Berkeley, and discovered my rhythm when I started salsa dancing in the early 90’s. I was hooked.
Through the years I’ve studied many partner dances, including Lindy Hop, Balboa, West Coast Swing, Blues, Fusion, various Ballroom dances, and Cuban salsa. I was thrilled when Phillip asked me to be his partner for the Putnam Clubhouse dance competition. I’ve always dreamed of performing.
I believe in supporting many types of communities. I participate in my block’s monthly potlucks and helped initiate a neighborhood watch program. I’ve been a coach with the Oakland WriterCoach Connection, a tutor for Reading Partners, and a visiting volunteer with Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly. I’ve donated my web skills to Women in Film & Television Louisiana, and I co-produced a storytelling festival in Oakland whose profits went to support Oakland Schools.
In my work, I love building tools that help teachers teach and students learn. Currently, I’m a product manager for an education technology company that evaluates student homework for originality, so that teachers can help students learn how to write (or code) in their own words.
I had a family member who suffered from bipolar disorder; I wish he could have had access to a place like the Putnam Clubhouse. I’m very happy to be participating in this great fundraising event to help support what they do.
Product Manager, Turnitin
Putnam Clubhouse is affiliated with Clubhouse International and follows the Clubhouse Model. Clubhouse program components involve doing the tasks needed to run the Clubhouse (cooking, clerical, fundraising, etc.), structured employment and educational opportunities,social and recreational activities, community support, outreach to other members, and participation in Clubhouse governance. Putnam Clubhouse is the first Clubhouse International-accredited program to open in Northern California.
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