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Five Questions For: Cindi Johnson, Executive Director, Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse

Patch asked Johnson what's the organization's 'holiday wish,' how the year went, and what people can do to help on an ongoing basis.

Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse in the city of Stone Mountain describes itself on its website as "a bridge of support for a person with brain injury to transition from medical patient to contributing community member."

It provides rehabilitation and support for people who have a traumatic brain injury (TBI), offering a safe and helpful environment. Learn more about Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse here.

Patch asked Side by Side's executive director, Cindi Johnson, five questions about the organization - including its needs and how people can help:

Does Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse have a special 'holiday wish' this year -- a need you'd like taken care of before the start of 2013?

We could really use a couple of things for our kitchen work unit where members prepare breakfast and lunch for the Clubhouse each day. Two things we over-use and need to replace fairly regularly are our mixer and coffee pot. We could really use an industrial strength mixer and a metal coffee carafe that fits in a standard automatic drip coffee maker. We have just broken yet another glass carafe.

Approximately how many people have been helped by Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse's programs and services in 2012?

100 people disabled by brain injuries plus their families have been served

Is there anything new or different that Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse will be doing in 2013?

We are excited to have just been invited to apply for grant funding to serve wounded warriors who sustained TBI’s during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. We have served a few of these heroes but there is no funding available for support services they and their families need so much in order to fully re-enter civilian life. We rely on charitable contributions to provide services that cost us $135 per day. We offer sliding scale scholarships and offer to accept whatever they can pay, but they are usually unable to afford even the transportation costs to come to and from their homes to Side by Side, located in Stone Mountain Village.

What's your favorite success story of 2012?

One of our members, Chris, who was injured as a young child in a pedestrian accident and then developed epilepsy, has won 2 awards for his folk-art style paintings which were displayed in a national exhibit. Chris, now in his 40’s, lives in a personal care home and comes to the Clubhouse where for once in his life he has a community of  friends and co-workers, as well as help to access resources and network with others involved in his craft such that he is now realizing his potential as an income-generating artist.

How can people help Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse on an ongoing basis?

·         Teach art classes one afternoon a week at the Clubhouse

·         Sponsor our monthly Friday Game Night by providing and serving dinner to members who stick around for stiff competition and a lot of fun.

·         Donate products like paper towels, toilet paper, tissue, and copy paper.

·         Donate tickets to Stone Mountain Park attractions because we’re so close that we often walk there but cannot afford to enjoy specific events

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