Experience the Brain Injury Clubhouse. Experience Community.
When you walk through the front door of a brain injury Clubhouse, you might just realize there’s a difference between the average human service program and … this. The receptionist who greets you behind the desk does not appear to be a staff person. He has an obvious disability. But there is something about the way he carries himself that suggests he owns that space behind the desk. It is clear as he greets you that you don’t need to try and figure out who is a staff member and who isn’t. Everyone is playing a necessary role. People buzz around you with purpose. There is energy to this place.
This is not a place where people sit around waiting for a caregiver to get off work or to waste a day. This a place where skilled individuals with desires and passion and strengths contribute to a whole. This is real life community with the mission to move every individual forward toward a goal.
In the typical brain injury Clubhouse, no two days at work are exactly the same. One day program members work side by side with Clubhouse staff to put in the garden. Everyone ends the day with a backache and dirt under nails. Everyone including the woman in a motorized wheelchair who grins with pleasure having found something she thought was lost after her stroke. The next day a man who was a trained chef before his brain injury works a lead chef in the Kitchen Unit. He regales whoever will listen about his full and colorful life in the merchant marines as he chop onions. It’s not just the work completed side by side that makes a brain injury Clubhouse special. It’s the joy of regained and newly learned skills. Like the day a woman with limited use of her hands learns to use the “Ok, Google” search function on her smart phone and you watch as she makes a phone call independently for the first time in years. The door to the world opens for Clubhouse members one small task at a time.
The philosophy of Clubhouse International established roots over 70 years ago that has grown to over 300 mental health clubhouses and 17 brain injury clubhouses internationally. Those working with brain injury survivors formed “IBICA: International Brain Injury Clubhouse Alliance.” IBICA received its formal identity in 2005 and its member clubhouses currently extend from as far east as New Jersey, north to Canada, and as far west as Texas.
IBICA is a nonprofit membership organization that supports the development, training, quality and stability of Brain Injury Clubhouse programs across the United States and Canada. IBICA serves as the primary advocate for the adaptation of Clubhouse International standards of operation, which have been successfully applied within the mental health community since its flagship location in New York opened in the 1940’s.