Side by Side follows the Clubhouse model of rehabilitation. This model was developed in the 1940s by and for people with mental illness to help them support each other, find and keep jobs, and to live out in their communities instead of institutions. In the 1980s the first Clubhouses for people with brain injuries opened. Today there are 25+ ABI Clubhouses in the world that belong to the International Brain Injury Clubhouse Alliance. We follow a set of standards adapted from the International Center for Clubhouse Development that ensures member involvement in every aspect of the organization. Members partner with staff to run their Clubhouse while giving and getting the support they need to live their lives to the fullest.
Members join Side by Side to have a place where they can be themselves and be understood and valued for who they are TODAY. Some members join the Clubhouse to get support for returning to paid or volunteer work after their brain injury and then return for support in other areas of their lives. Others want a place to come for friendship and to offer their skills and talents to a community. Sometimes members and their families simply need a break from being together all the time and look to Side by Side for a safe place to be active, productive, and then go home feeling tired and satisfied you’ve done something good that day. Once a Clubhouse member, always a Clubhouse member. In fact, the very first Clubhouse standard is: Membership is voluntary and without time limits.
Side by Side follows a workday schedule, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Members volunteer to help out in work units: Business, Kitchen or Maintenance that do everything it takes to keep the Clubhouse running for its members. In addition to the workday jobs, members and staff collaborate to develop, follow and update a plan for each person that also may include:
- Employment services
- Advocacy assistance
- Service coordination
- Psychological adjustment counseling
- Independent living skills support
- Social events
- Family and caregiver education
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.
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
Hi, I’m Chris, and I am on the search to find my voice. My voice seemed to disappear at the time of my initial injury, some 2 ½ years ago, and I have been on a continuous search to find it ever since. My voice is very important to me, and having people, many of whom I am close to, not be able to understand me when I’m speaking is very frustrating. This issue came about right after my accident, when I woke up in the hospital, and realized that I was speaking at a much faster rate. I was hard to understand, and had no idea why. This was very confusing, and also frustrating.
When I moved down to Atlanta, in the winter of 2012, and began to attend the Side By Side Clubhouse after therapy at Shepherd Pathways, I noticed my voice beginning to improve. Noticing this achievement then gave me the confidence in order to begin socializing once again. Actually speaking began to strengthen the muscles in my mouth, which was what I needed in order to be understood once again. Over time, the confidence in my voice returned. Now, there are times in which I begin to speak way too quickly once again. It is at these times that I have to work toward a slower rate of speaking, focusing on the enunciation of certain words and phrases.
A Search to Find My Voice
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.