What is C.W. Potter Place?


Charles Webster Potter Place is the Clubhouse located in Waltham, Massachusetts. A Clubhouse is an employment and recovery center that offers people with mental health conditions hope and opportunities to achieve their full potential. Much more than simply a program or a social service, a Clubhouse is a community of people who are working together to achieve a common goal. This opportunity to be a part of a successful working community is restorative and builds dignity and self-esteem. During the course of participation in the Clubhouse, members gain access to opportunities to connect with community, employment, education and friendships; and are enabled to take ownership of their own recovery.

According to available research, Clubhouses achieve the following tangible results for members and their communities:

  • Better employment outcomes: longer on-the-job tenure is found to be highly correlated with Clubhouse attendance.
  • Reduced hospital stays: membership in a Clubhouse has resulted in a significant decrease in the number of hospitalizations.
  • Reduced incarcerations: criminal justice system involvement is substantially diminished during and after Clubhouse program membership.
  • Improved well-being: Compared with individuals receiving services as usual, Clubhouse members have been shown to be significantly more likely to report that they had close friendships and someone they could rely on when they needed help.


Although Fountain House, the first Clubhouse, started more than fifty years ago and has been replicated more than four hundred times around the world, the Clubhouse concept is still a radically different way of working in the field of community mental health. Most program models still focus on assessing a person’s level of disability and limiting the expectations based on that assessment. Most use teaching or treatment as the vehicle for providing rehabilitation. At Potter Place the expectations are high, and mutual work, mutual relationships, and meaningful opportunities in the community are the vehicles of choice.

About Our Name

In choosing our name it was our desire to select one with both local and historical significance. As a Clubhouse, we were impressed by the many contributions of Charles Webster Potter (1878-1947) to the Waltham community. As a member of the Waltham Board of Alderman, Mr. Potter held a commanding position in virtually all community affairs for over thirty years. He was active in the Chamber of Commerce as president, Waltham’s National Councilor representative for fifteen years, and served on the Board of Directors for forty years. Charles W. Potter was also a forerunner in the social service field. He created the Waltham Community Fund a full decade before Boston established the metropolitan fundraising federation, which supported local services.

We feel that the accomplishments of Charles Webster Potter represent what our clubhouse continually strives toward: excellence in both social service and the business community.

Decision-Making and Governance

Decision-making and governance are important parts of the Clubhouse work. Members and staff meet in open forums to discuss policy issues and future planning for the Clubhouse. Potter Place’s primary decision-making meeting is called Planning Meeting and occurs from 2-3 pm on Wednesdays. Potter Place also has an advisory board that is charged with oversight management, fundraising, public relations and helping to develop employment opportunities for members.