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By Gail Sparhawk

Photo:  members and guests enjoying lunch together 

March 8, 2019 (El Cajon) -- “This place brings me peace and comfort,” says Nicholas, speaking about the East Corner Clubhouse operated by Community Research Foundation (CRF) at 1060 Estes Street in El Cajon.

It looks like any other shop on the strip mall until you enter. Then you are greeted by grateful participants, a wall of flyers showcasing local resources for individuals with mental health issues, and delightful decorations celebrating the holiday. 

This holiday was Valentine’s Day. A flyer advertising the day mentions prizes, scavenger hunt, raffles, free food and networking. In addition to “members” in attendance were representatives from The McAllister Institute, Casa del Sol in Imperial Beach (another CRF Clubhouse), the San Diego Food Bank and The El Cajon Collaborative.


Photo, right:  Linda posing in the kissing booth


Members are those who have a current or past history of mental illness. All programs are free of cost and participation is voluntary. Services include support groups such as dual recovery for members with co-occurring disorders, smoking cessation and various recovery groups. Job training, recreational activities, food distribution and volunteer opportunities are also provided.


The Program Advisory Group allows members to share input to staff and the program director so that the Clubhouse can develop in ways that are supportive of members’ needs, since the Clubhouse is “member directed” with members setting their own personal goals. Most functions of the Clubhouse operation are completed by members.  This includes cooking, janitorial work, running support groups, and operation of a thrift store. According to CRF’s Clubhouse website (http://comresearch.org) “All staff is dedicated to the principles of psychosocial rehabilitation and actively partnering with the members to achieve their personal goals.”


The website also mentions the four main goals of Clubhouse programs:


  • To help members realize that recovery is possible
  • To help members achieve productive and meaningful roles
  • To provide members with opportunities for training, practice, and experience
  • To assist members obtain employment opportunities in the community


Several members spoke with us about ways that the Clubhouse has benefitted them. To protect their privacy, their last names have been omitted.

Jessica eagerly describes the Clubhouse as “really positive, clean. I get treated really well and get a lot of good information.” James explains that working in the kitchen and putting together the newsletter “keeps me busy.” Babs expresses gratitude for the support after a hospital stay. Dee appreciates the food donations, the free Friday brunch and help getting her back on Medi-Cal. Edward and Laurie are grateful for the dual diagnosis support group that has really helped them.


The ultimate goal of the clubhouse is to encourage members to achieve their fullest potential.  Teresa, Program Coordinator and Sam Mayfield, Program Director, explain that the Clubhouse was the creation of individuals who had recently been discharged from the hospital and who realized that they could support one anotherThese individuals also realized they had much to contribute to this world.


If you or someone you know could benefit from this program, call (619) 631-0441 or check out the East Corner website at http://www.comresearch.org/serviceDetails.php?id=MTY=


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This is great!

A much needed, and appreciated service for those in need.