GRAND AVENUE, WEST OF 580 – October 2015
Hi Neighbors! On Oct. 10, join the Splashpad Park team and Mayor Libby Schaaf walking “1000 steps for independence” with Clausen House. Learn more about Clausen House in this month’s article. – LZ.
In 1964, Shirley and Dr. Edwin Clausen, a surgeon specializing in stomach cancer, planned to open a residential center in Oakland that could provide infrastructure, equality and inclusive services and support for their developmentally disabled daughter, Ann, and others like her. But in 1966, before that dream could become a reality, Dr. Clausen died. Shirley Clausen had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis since the mid-1950’s , but she carried the dream forward and opened the first Clausen House residential facility in 1967 serving 7 adult women, including her daughter Ann. Today, Clausen House is an internationally respected program that has expanded its programs and facilities to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities work, live and serve in our community.
Shawn Edwards, Program Director at the Clausen House Adult Education and Day Training Activity Center (DTAC) at 650 Grand Ave., explains, “This is not a place where clients are given a Snickers bar, locked in a dark room, and told not to bother anybody.” Training and activities at DTAC are designed to help clients learn the life skills needed to shop, go to restaurants, enjoy community activities and be reliable employees. “We try to get our folks into the community. We want our population to have jobs and relationships.”
On a typical weekday, a client might have breakfast at one of the Clausen House residences in the neighborhood, perform some household chores, and then arrive at DTAC at 9 AM. The day begins with a 30-minute morning program of quiet music and thoughtful focus that helps each person transition to the day’s activities. Teachers check in with each client between 9:30 and 10:00 AM, reviewing Individual Service Plans together. Clausen House provides classes that are designed to fit each person’s goals and requirements. Examples include art, technology, dance and theater, as well as self-advocacy, money management, health and hygiene, social skills, and emotional fitness. Each day includes a hot lunch. Some will help by washing dishes and sweeping at the end of the day.
On the fourth Friday of each month, from 1 PM to 3 PM at DTAC, you can view and purchase Clausen House artwork that often features the creative reuse of materials. Drop in and meet the artists. One large, colorful canvas includes a “Where’s Waldo” representation of Shawn’s smiling face near the upper right corner. Can you spot him?
“Our folks want to give back,” explains Shawn. “These are the most loving people in the world.” They volunteer at the Alameda Community Food Bank, Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles, and Meals-on-Wheels. Teams pick up litter at Lake Merritt, enjoying the appreciative smiles and thanks offered by other park users. Each Friday, they invest in the neighborhood as customers. On “Friday Fun Day” they select an activity by consensus that might include having lunch at one of their favorite places (the Grand Lake Café, KFC, Wingstop, Flipside Burgers or Chipolte Mexican Grill), or shopping at Arizmendi, Trader Joe’s, or Grand Flowers.
DTAC also provides a comprehensive career center for Clausen clients. They learn how to search and apply for jobs, and how to dress and conduct themselves in interviews and at the workplace. With this preparation, job applicants from Clausen House are ready-to-go and excited to be working. They are used to following rules and appreciate workplace routines and structure. “They show up every day, on time, and treat you like a rock star,” Shawn cheerily reports. “They are loyal and trustworthy. Their average employment tenure is over 18 years! They just need opportunities.” A job coach and peer coaches provide continued support for them after jobs are attained. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Walgreen’s, and Safeway in Alameda currently employ Clausen House clients.
Jennifer Della Croce, Development Specialist and Walk Fundraiser Coordinator invites everyone to join Mayor Libby Schaaf at the Lake Merritt Bandstand on Saturday, October 10, at 10 AM for the 3rd Annual Clausen House Walk. “Unite as a strong community of advocates and supporters, community partners, family members and friends to spread the word and share the love of the Clausen House mission and invaluable footprint at this festive fundraising event.” You can register yourself to walk, sponsor someone who is registered to walk, or become a virtual walker, by donating at THIS LINK. Consider selecting the Splash Pad Park fundraiser team when you click the link. Join at 2.5 cents ($25) or 5 cents ($50) or more per step. Walk (or virtually walk) 1000 meaningful Steps for Independence.
Jennifer and Clausen House welcome all donations of “time, talent and treasure,” including cars, furniture and household goods for the residences, exercise equipment, art materials, etc. But she notes, “Money is good everywhere” for all the Clausen House needs. Clausen House is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
By providing “whole client” residential living services, affordable housing, independent living and supported living services, employment support services, and adult education and training, this nonprofit organization helps developmentally disabled adults to gain competency, develop relationships and join the community with increasing command over their own lives. Clausen House directly serves more than 200 clients who are at least 22 years old and indirectly supports 625 families in Oakland and throughout Alameda County. Dr. Edwin Clausen–the founders’ son, Ann’s brother, and the former President of Daemon College in Buffalo, New York–has served on the Clausen House board since 2012 and became its president in January 2015.
Learn more about Clausen House’s history by viewing “The Hidden Struggle-Part 1”, “The Hidden Struggle – Part 2” and “The Hidden Struggle- Part 3″. These YouTube videos from the early years will introduce you to several Clausen House clients who describe their challenges and tell their stories of growth achieved through the Clausen House programs and activities. You will be reminded of how many things have changed (remember dial telephones and buying BART tickets for a dollar?) and see how Clausen House clients, dedicated staff, and the surrounding community continue to benefit from our combined lives.
Adult Education & Day Training Activity Center
650 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94610
88 Vernon St., Oakland, CA 94610