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 every six 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 9:00-3:00, 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.
Today I am going to try and share the Clubhouse’s excitement about our fundraising hoops battle on March 16 2013 less than a week after my Birthday. If you’re wondering what you should get me let it be known I will gladly accept cash and donations to my Side by Side Clubhouse to fund the day to day operations of my favorite place in the world where I enjoy working in the business unit a couple of days a week. While I’m in my Blog I feel it necessary to remember my good friend Mike McCord who was the first man that I spoke to at Emory after awaking from my coma and then I followed him up here to Side by Side. My man Mike and I got along so well because like me he was a Dawg fan but now he works in the private rehab world with individuals who are sure of returning to the work force. Sitting here talking about him is only making me miss him that much more. Frank F.
Fundraising Hoops Battle and Frank’s Shout Out to Mike McCord
Well, my drivers evaluation out to Side By Side, from Spring Creek House, is less than 24 hours away! I’ve been preparing for this since the winter of 2012, and I feel that all of the hard work will definitely pay off! I’ve been plotting the route out on my phone, driving out here every night this week with my father, and writing down the route, on paper, every day this! I feel like this “homework” will benefit me greatly! I am very proud of myself for doing all of the “legwork”, needed in order to drive, independently, outside my allowed radius of 3 miles. I am also very thankful of my father for putting his life, in Northern VA on hold, to come down here and help me with this! It is very re-assuring to know that he is there to support me in my endeavors! Tomorrow’s result could turn out to be a huge accomplishment for me! We’ll see how it goes.. Shep
Inch by Inch, Mile by Mile- The Long Road to Recovery
Side by Side Clubhouse has been an invaluable resource for our research on usability and accessibility of wireless technology by people recovering from brain injury. The staff and members have provided critical feedback and insights on existing technologies and proposed new solutions. The data and insights we gather at Side by Side Clubhouse is used to inform designers and developers of wireless technology about the needs and wants of people living with the effects of brain injury.
John Morris, Ph.D. Research Scientist Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) Shepherd Center
John Morris, Research Scientist, thanks members for critical feedback and insight
Our Stone Mountain Woman’s Club began our relationship with Side by Side when the Clubhouse moved to Stone Mountain Village several years ago. We recently held our 6th Annual Christmas Brunch honoring the SxS members and staff, an event during which we celebrate the season with food, fellowship, and singing. We are moved by the stories of the members whose lives have been forever changed by brain injury, the hope and resilience they demonstrate, and the compassion and professionalism of the wonderful staff there. Volunteering with Side by Side always provides us more blessings than those we are able to impart.
Terry Ingwersen, Side by Side volunteer extraordinaire
Upon reading an article about my traumatic brain injury, in the Shepherd Spinal Column magazine, I felt it very relieving to be past that fateful, tragic day back in mid-June, 2010. While reading about this experience tends to take me back, in a small way, to that fateful day that would come to change my life forever, it’s very comforting to know that it has changed my life for the better. Having spent a good portion of 2012 recovering down here in Atlanta, GA at Shepherd Pathways, my therapists and case managers have shown me that there is, indeed, a life after brain injury waiting to be explored. It has shown me that the old saying, “it’s not so much about what happens to you in life, as it’s all about how you deal with it,” is indeed a valid statement. I believe that that is what shapes us into being human.
Chris Responds to his Article
One of the things I enjoy most about the Clubhouse is the generosity of our members. I tell new volunteers that our members will share moving stories of survival and triumph with them and some of them even travel around the city with Cindi talking to groups about their experiences. Others are generous in giving their time to volunteer at various volunteer activities which can be adapted to use their talents. Debbie helps with publications at her church and Greg and Gary sing in the men’s choirs at their churches. Cynthia volunteers as a receptionist at a charity and Colleen serves meals at an older folks home.
The most generosity, however, can be seen in the way members help each other with their jobs during the work ordered day and with meeting their goals. Not too long ago Chris, our resident folk artist, got enough paint and canvas to start painting at home. This made a big difference in his life because he needed that creative way to express himself and he needed to spend more of his time in active, healthy ways. One thing missing was an easel. He had already gotten in trouble with his landlady for getting paint on the bead spread in his room. The very next week after this dilemma presented itself Marc appeared at the Clubhouse with 5 easels. He donated one for Chris to use at home and the others to be used here. Marc is a wood worker as is his grandfather. When he got home from his day at Side by Side he had designed a simple easel in his head and he and his grandfather found some discount wood to make it a reality.
Members with a brain injury don’t necessarily have a lot of resources but everyone has skills, and talents. Being able to provide something that another member might need whether it is help on the computer or a word of encouragement, makes life more satisfying and really fulfills the spirit of our name – Side by Side.
Memorias de mi vida
Me llamo Manuel. Tuve un accidente de trabajo y estuve diez dias en coma. Ingrese a Shepherd Center y despues a Shepherd Pathways y de ultimo estoy en Side By Side donde e aprendido algunas cosas y ya me he recuperado muhco de mis lesions. Entre las cosas que me gustan esta sembrar flores y algunas verduras. Me gusta dedicarles tiempo a las plantas en espesial a las flores
My name is Manuel. I had an accident at work and I was in the hospital for 10 days in a coma. I then went to Shepherd Center and then to Shepherd Pathways. Ultimately I came to Side by Side where I have learned a few things and I have learned a lot of my lessons. Among the things that I like is planting flowers and some vegetables. I like to dedicate time to plants, especially flowers.
Memories of My Life
Treat us like normal people! Don’t poke us. Don’t make fun of us. Try not to critique us. Don’t play loud and/or obnoxious music. Don’t run and scream. Try to be understanding. Let us live how we live.
Tips for Treating People with Brain Injury
Just had to send you a note for sending Colleen our way. We have never had anybody as conscientious and dedicated to her work as Colleen. She is always on time and goes out of her way to accommodate others in the Office. Thanks for sending Colleen and the wonderful work done at Side By Side.
Candler Broom, CEO, Austin Brown Inc.
The Clubhouse is a treasured and unusual resource. It provides experiences that I, as a professional, cannot. Working as part of a community, a person learns to value others, to value him or herself. The Clubhouse provides a safe and respectful space in which patients become people again.
Dr. M. Rusin, psychologist serving brain injured clients