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Countywide : A New Place Clubhouse Calls Home

For more than a year, the Clubhouse program has offered county victims of severe head injuries a comfortable place of their own, where they can work their way back to independence.

Now the Clubhouse has a comfortable place of its own too.

After being housed in a dark, cramped converted restaurant since its creation, the nonprofit program opened its doors this week in a bright new home in the city of Orange.

“This is a great place for us, a new home that will be here forever,” said Cathy DeMello, Clubhouse program director, during a party Wednesday to celebrate the new quarters.

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The program is now housed in a 10,000-square-foot converted warehouse where 100 people with disabilities come to work, relearn job skills or simply play pool and exercise. The new building has offices, a large recreation area and a craft store that features the handiwork of the group’s members.

Work is key to the Clubhouse approach. Daily tasks--such as clerical work, landscaping or preparing meals--help members rebuild the skills and memory abilities that are often impaired by head injuries.

Members run the day-to-day operation of the Clubhouse. Many have just come from long hospital stays after a serious accident. Each member now has a job, and the goal, DeMello said, is to restore their abilities and confidence so they can once again live on their own.

“We have a job placement branch, and we are always pushing them toward that goal, if it’s within their capabilities,” she said. Fourteen members have gone through the program and gotten jobs in Orange County.

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The Clubhouse is owned and operated by the Anaheim-based Dayle McIntosh Center for the Disabled.

Clubhouse member James Rook, 46, who was kicked in the head by a horse in 1991, said the new center, combined with the staff’s encouraging approach, have helped him make great strides.

“The best part is the people here,” said Rook, who had to relearn basic skills such as speaking. “I like the new place and all the new stuff, but the people are what make it great.”


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