Answers to Common Questions

What is a Clubhouse?

A Clubhouse is a place where people belong-a place where people with brain injuries come to be productive and enjoy contributing to a common cause. If people want to learn work skills and get a job in the community Side by Side can help.

Where did this idea come from?

The Clubhouse model began in 1948 when some people with psychiatric disabilities gathered together to support each other. They got some help to develop a program to keep them busy and productive, help them work, live independently, get some education, and socialize with each other. Now there are over 300 Clubhouses around the world, but less than 30 of them focus on people with brain injuries.

How did the Clubhouse program come about in the Atlanta area?

In the early 1990s, Cindi Johnson and Mike McCord were known to the brain injury community as therapists and co-directors of Camp Hargrove of the Brain Injury Association of Georgia. They had a desire to create a place for people with brain injuries to come every weekday where they can belong, contribute, be accepted and appreciated; have responsibility and control over their daily lives – and to feel good about themselves while doing it!

Shepherd Center and Emory Healthcare, Cindi’s and Mike’s employers, agreed to sponsor the startup of Side by Side Clubhouse in July 1999. Both facilities are committed to helping people with brain injuries be as successful as possible throughout their lives, long after rehabilitation has ended. Side by Side Clubhouse opened as a not-for-profit charitable organization in March 2000 with 3 members and 3 staff in Decatur Georgia. While Mike has moved on from Side by Side, the other two founding staff are still with us.

What happens at Side by Side Clubhouse?

The program follows a work-ordered day. The members do everything that must be done to run the Clubhouse each day. For example, we need to answer the phone, deposit lunch money in the bank, advocate for ourselves in the community, and know where the jobs are and how to get them, learn jobs and keep them… We also need to pay the bills, eat lunch, clean and maintain the Clubhouse… you get the idea.

Are there staff at the Clubhouse?

Yes, there are a few staff, just enough to guide the members in deciding how to make sure Side by Side Clubhouse runs smoothly. The staff are not there to give individualized physical assistance or “do therapy”. Staff are available to work side by side with members to complete the “work” of the Clubhouse. Staff will also help members get, learn, and keep jobs in their community. There is about one staff for six eight Clubhouse members.

Are members paid for their work in a Clubhouse?

No, members are not paid, just like they wouldn’t be paid for their efforts in another “club”. Members are assisted and encouraged to secure employment in the community and often return to Side by Side for support.

Is there a membership fee?

Yes, there is a daily charge to attend Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse. Discounts are offered as available to help those who cannot pay the full fee. Side by Side Clubhouse is a non-profit organization, so it only needs to cover the costs of operating the Clubhouse itself. Therefore the cost of membership is minimal. Some members’ fees are paid by Worker’s Compensation Carriers; Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency; or the Independent Care Waiver Program of Medicaid. If you will be paying membership fees yourself, ask for a Private Payment form.

How do I know if the Clubhouse is right for me?

If you want to be part of a dynamic club where you help make decisions and carry out everything to keep it going, Side by Side may be right for you. If you need a place to “fit in”, or want help getting back to work, the Clubhouse may be a good option. If you are independent with your assistive devices (things that help with toileting, walking, eating, taking medicine, etc) or have someone to help you with those things, you will do fine at the Clubhouse. You also must be able to control your behavior so that you are not a threat to yourself or anyone in the Clubhouse.

When, where, and how do I get there?

Members may attend Side by Side Clubhouse from 8:30-2:30, Monday thru Friday. Members are responsible for their own transportation and can come as often as they want.

Side by Side Clubhouse is located at 1001 Main Street Stone Mountain, GA 30083. It is on the 121 MARTA bus line from the Kensington Station. The phone number is (770) 469-9355.

Medication & Diet

You need to have a system to take your own medicine while at the clubhouse. Some members use alarm watches or medicine boxes. You also need to monitor your own dietary needs. We try to have nutritious, delicious lunches with a sugar-free dessert alternative. Be sure to always let us know anytime your medications change even if you don’t take them while at the clubhouse.

Other Questions?

Call us at (770) 469-9355 or e-mail us at teresa@sidebysideclubhouse.org, or check out our website at www.sidebysideclubhouse.org


  • My name is Matt. I currently work two days a week at Side by Side as a member in the business unit. Prior to my brain injury, I played tennis. I currently hold the record for wins in Tennis at Belmont University, where I played #2 singles my first 2 years and #1 doubles all four years.  I played #1 singles my last 2 years. Now, I still play tennis with my son on occasion.  I never let him win.

    Matt’s Tennis Experience
  • Hello my name is Jared, and I am a member over at Side by Side. I work in the Business Unit. I am a Basketball Athlete, and have been out of school for almost 2 years but not quite. I feel like the Clubhouse Family has really helped me out a lot.

    The 2 years I have been in rehab has been a learning experience ha-ha, but fun in the same way. It has really taught me that this is not something that happens overnight. Side by Side is an excellent place for people who have had Setbacks.

    Jared’s First Blog
  • I have found that Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse has made me aware that I am not the only person who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury. I REALLY appreciate the opportunity to participate in something more constructive than sulking by myself being depressed about my present predicament. This serves no productive purpose. It only adds to my frustration and makes me upset for no apparent reason. Firstly, I have realized that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I am able to speak with other people who also are recovering from TBI (traumatic Brain Injury) this helps me by letting me know that there is more to life than being miserable or angry at whomever for no obvious reason in particular, I understand that if I approach life with a positive attitude that I will succeed in anything on which I focus my attention for that, I am extremely appreciative. I am starting to feel human for the first time in over four years!

    Forever thankful,


    “What I Get from Side by Side” by Bil
  • “My name is Felicia, I am relatively new to the clubhouse, and recently went to my first ladies’ luncheon. My injury was sustained three years ago during a surgery to remove a brain tumor. What was supposed to be a routine 3-5 hour procedure resulted in a massive right hemisphere stroke, five additional surgeries, left-sided paralysis, a medically induced three week coma, seizures, and the bleak prognosis of “at best, she’ll be a vegetable!” An emergency transfer to the top rehabilitation hospital in the nation specializing in spinal cord & brain injury rehabilitation all of which I had to be told about, when I woke up. I thought I was in the recovery room from the initial brain surgery, when in reality the aforementioned had occurred, I could not breathe, eat or walk on my own and had to relearn how to do each  so “ I woke up like this”  has a much deeper meaning to me than Beyoncé’s superficial  vain and  “flawless” message. In my former life, as I refer to my life pre-stroke I worked with several private practice  OB/GYN offices as a phlebotomist that was requested by everyone.  One of the bonuses of working for a private practice in the healthcare field is the many delicious lunches and on occasions dinner outings provided by the pharmaceutical reps it was during these times that staff became more than just coworkers and could enjoy each other’s’ friendship relating through OMG!-stories about the husband, children,  and past life experiences, These friendships   showed up strong during my injury and were one of the best supports  throughout recovery. The ladies’ luncheon reminded me of those fun times and the beginning building blocks of great friendships I look forward to attending many more!”

    My First Ladies’ Luncheon by Felicia
  • I feel very good about being a member of this Clubhouse. It gives me something to look forward to every Tuesday and Thursday. One beautiful thing about the Clubhouse is the dedication and compassion of staff who understand the challenges members go through every day of their lives.

    Today has been a particularly good day for me because after feeling down earlier, I had the chance to speak with Neil about my situation. He was not only supportive of my situation, but also very encouraging.

    I have also learned a lot by interacting with fellow survivors of brain injury by discussing some of our daily challenges with them. It is helpful to know that I am not alone in my journey to get better.


    George, not alone in recovery
  • My name is Myron and I’m currently a new member here at Side by Side Clubhouse. I have only been here for two weeks but the experience has been monumental in my life. Side by Side is deeply involved in the community and have numerous events and tasks that allow for their members to take part in. Upon the first few days, I learned about the Lawyers/Doctors basketball game, the Game Night, the tasks of the different departments that are presently here, and the value of working together. Each day is an opportunity for me to learn something new and the members here are outstanding. My views on the effects of TBI injuries have changed since the days I was in the hospital recovering. My thoughts in the past were that my injury would prevent me from doing a lot of things in life that I enjoyed before injury. This program is great, because it’s showing me that being productive and remaining positive is definitely possible. Also, separating me from others or choosing to do things on my own is not the best method to take. I’m now more receptive of doing things in teams and working with others.


    Meet Myron
  • For my Blog today I am choosing to discuss my love of the Side by Side Clubhouse which I’ve been a member of for the last 10 years.  Oh and today was noteworthy in the fact that my driver Carson returned from his vacation in New Smyrna Beach, Fla’.  He told me that he’d had a great vacation but there was a lot of sea weed.  OK I’ll get back to my love of my House o’ Clubage.  It’s the folks here that I truly enjoy being around, such as Rob and Emma for example and their outgoing niceness.


    Clubhouse Love–(thanks, Frank, we love you too!)
  • Hello everybody out there, my name is Javon and I attend the Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse. I got my brain injury a little over 2 years ago and coming to Side by Side has helped me. Since I have started coming here it helps me to be surrounded by other people with traumatic brain injuries and not being judged by what I can and can’t do.


    Meet Javon
  • I learn something new every day.  I absolutely love coming to the clubhouse.  Looking forward to coming here is wonderful for me.  I prepare the night before for the next day.  For me, I wake up early, prepare myself, and I’m all the way ready when my transportation comes.  Once I get here I get to socialize, calm down from dealing with all the automobile traffic, and be on time for my meeting in the Business Unit.  While I’m here, I get to learn new things.  My transferrable business skills are utilized. I get to help others in the Business Unit.  It doesn’t cost anything to be friendly to others.  I am being tested on my patience. I need for people to be tolerant with me, and I need to be tolerant with others. The clubhouse helps to teach me the patience that I absolutely need.


    Learning Preparation & Patience at the Clubhouse
  • Today for my Blog I will take a cue from my close friend Mrs. Virginia and go into some of the things I love about my house o’ clubbage these things would be… 1st: staff members who are a nice bunch of people who always remember that it’s a Side by Side Clubhouse and they don’t have to come down on us whenever we slack off for just a second they realize that from time to time we might need to take a breather for just a second.

    2nd: Fellow members.  Just a bunch of great friends & people like myself (cognitively impaired people like myself who aren’t quite ready to return to the work force yet quite often we need to work together to get what we want to complete completed.

    3rd: My main man & driver Mr. Carson. Carson has been my best friend since my injury. I hope that he feels as stongly ‘bout this kid. he must think a great deal of me in that he allows me to listen to whatever I want to on the radio on our long journeys down from North Ga.



    Some things I love about the Clubhouse