It has been my privilege to volunteer in a variety of ways at Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse. The members are happy individuals who thrive in this most respectful, interesting, and uplifting environment. The staff is unfailingly dedicated. The members learn and grow in ways that are difficult to adequately describe. I can think of no other setting more positive or deserving of one's support than Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse!
Having worked as a rehabilitation counselor for people with catastrophic disabilities for more than 20 years, I have come to appreciate that the Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse is a true gem within the field of rehabilitation and community support for people with traumatic or acquired brain injuries. By providing a place for people with brain injuries to come daily to be productive, to share a laugh, to support each other, to learn from each other, and to teach each other, the Side by Side Clubhouse is unique in the way it makes its members feel "normal" and wanted and safe and valuable. So many of these characteristics easily get forgotten in someone who has a brain injury and is no longer the same person they were before the brain injury. The Side by Side helps its members to regain their sense of self and to move forward, with the support and love and care of the other members, its staff and volunteers, family members, and even the community. I have seen firsthand the good work of the Side by Side Clubhouse in helping members meet their needs and become productive and contributing members of society again. The Side by Side Clubhouse impressed me so much so that I chose to spend 4 years studying its program and outcomes and getting to know its members and staff in order to successfully conduct my dissertation research. But not wanting to disconnect my ties to the Clubhouse after my research was finished, I accepted an invitation to serve on the Board of Directors to further the good work of the Clubhouse and to ensure its future in providing quality, community supported, and real-world services to a much needed (and growing) population of people with brain injury. With over 1.7 million people each year in U.S. who get a traumatic brain injury, programs such as the Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse have a necessary and needed place in our community. Support to keep the Clubhouse vital and continuing is crucial and is where the most positive results will occur - to help someone like you or me who has received a brain injury to live as normal a life as possible.
I worked at Side By Side Clubhouse as an intern earning my masters degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling. This facility provides for individuals who have suffered chronic traumatic injuries (TBI) a place to come to daily where they are able to socialize and engage in work related activities in a setting where they are accepted by their peers and are able to receive appropriate rehabilitation assessment and services by the staff. The socialization aspect is very important because TBI's often affect individuals' appearance and personality; this can have a dramatic effect on their ability to socialize. The result is that often individuals with TBI's are marginalized in society. This facility provides a place for socialization which contributes specifically to their healing and ultimately to overall quality of life. It allows for respite for the families of the members because they bare a serious responsibility towards members' daily well-being. If this is all that Side By Side provided it would be enough to be a great non-profit organization but in addition, the professional staff provides counseling and rehabilitation services, service coordination with the member's medical team and other relevant parties, and case management services. The result is that the environment is created here where individuals with TBI's have available to them the resources necessary to achieve their personal, career and independent living goal. Side By Side therefor, serves us all by improving our society's overall quality of life.
The members of the Clubhouse are some of the most intriguing, gifted, and giving people that I have ever met. They touched my life everyday with stories or recovery and gratitude. Despite surviving traumatic brain injuries, they are productive members of society. The members run the clubhouse. In addition, they contribute to the community in so many other ways. In fact, the members give back more than most of us. And they give back with a smile. The staff is equally committed to the community in Stone Mountain as well as the community at large. Both the staff and members invest in and take pride in their community by volunteering and supporting community initiatives. They help with landscaping; provide art work for community fairs and day care centers. In these economic times they too need financial support to keep the clubhouse going. Let’s give as much as we can to keep this vital group alive and active in our communities.
Over the past 2 years I have interned and volunteered at Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse. The members and staff at Side by Side have truly perfected the clubhouse model. When you go to the clubhouse as a member, staff, intern, volunteer or just a visitor, you are treated as family. Productive activity gives the members a sense of accomplishment, ownership and confidence. As a professional (who was trained under the best at the clubhouse) I understand more about the human spirit and science of the brain/body. The members at the clubhouse taught me just as much (or more) than I taught them. Atlanta is so lucky to have a place like the clubhouse to assist, advocate for and empower the brain injury community.
Clubhouse is a very special place full for love, hope, and support. The staff are wonderful people and treat members with the great respect and dignity. The members are committed to their role in the Clubhouse and are very supportive of one another. Clubhouse offers such a needed service in the community and allows members productive and meaningful activity. The friendships that are made and the opportunity to give back is very impressive. We are lucky to have such a great organization in Atlanta!
My daughter has been a member of side-by-side clubhouse for a number of years. The clubhouse has been a wonderful place for her to relearn socialization skills that were lost due to her TBI. She has been offered a chance to learn job skills that have served her well in several part-time jobs she has held while still attending the clubhouse. She has gained dignity and respect through her interactions with staff and club members. Most of all she has a community of friends who work together for the good of each other and the clubhouse. The clubhouse has been a lifesaver for my daughter. I am so impressed with all the dedicated staff and volunteers. I wish that there were more clubhouses around the state to provide the wonderful services my daughter receives.
Side by Side Clubhouse and its staff are phenomenal! With excellent attention to detail, one-on-one interaction, and a smile, the staff go above and beyond the call of duty to serve their members. Each member's inner potential is revealed, their individual personalities are celebrated, and, best of all, they are so appreciative of the Clubhouse and remain very engaged. Traveling sometimes more than two hours to get the Clubhouse, members are committed to their services, and staff do not disappoint. All that is needed now are MORE Clubhouses! There should be at least three more in GA.
Side By Side meets people where they are and restores dignity and purpose to people living with the long-term effects of brain injury that continue long after medical treatment has done all it can. Side By Side gives members a reason to get out of bed in the morning and a place to go to be productive members of community. At the Clubhouse, they are able to contribute their abilities to productive activity, as well as stretch and strengthen those skills toward potential broader participation in community. Side By Side provides a personal support community in which individuals are valued as they are, rather than seen only for what they have lost. Side By Side provides respite to families of brain injured individuals while doing so much more than just parking the injured in a day care facility. I was constantly moved by how the clients focused on the positives rather than the negatives in their lives, on what they could do rather than what they could not, and by how thankful they are for the experience of Side By Side. I grew both personally and professionally by working side by side with members and staff.
Side by Side is an in incredible organization that provides hope to many survivors and families who have suffered a brain injury. It is a program that allow these folks to improve on all aspects their lives as they relearn to become productive members of society and/or to live a quality of life. It is inspiring to see the work that goes on which provides the needed structure and support to allow people with brain injuries reach their goals. It is a place where commaraderie and fellowship take place which is imperative in accepting their new journey. Kudos to the staff and especially the executive director who has dedicated her life to this program and what is has become!!!