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Our House

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

The new coordinator of the Mount Rogers Powerhouse Clubhouse plans to match the improvements in downtown Galax with positive changes at the facility on Main Street.

Rick Whisenhunt, the newly named coordinator and local who graduated from Galax High School in 1996, wants to boost visibility of clubhouse members in the community.

Powerhouse is a daytime-only service center for individuals who need a little extra support in a friendly family atmosphere, he said.

“The main thing with us is helping people with the extra challenges they face each day.”

The clubhouse staff is working to make positive changes in the clubhouse, so it can make positive changes in the community.

Powerhouse opened in the early 1980s and has helped a lot of people since, Whisenhunt said. Its members are also part of the community, and they want to be a bigger part of it and have more to enjoy.

One of the earliest improvements under the new coordinator is evident in the backyard, where members provided beautification through planting flowers and cutting back brush to make it more welcoming.

On site, the clubhouse offers services such as lunch every day at the “snack shack.”

Members also produce a newsletter distributed to clubhouse users.

Facility improvements to landscaping and buildings will improve the consumer’s experience, he said.

Outside of the clubhouse itself, clubhouse members will get more involved in different activities, such as the arts.

Clubhouse members now have a chorus performing-arts program, and they’ve already performed at the Rex Theater.

Organizers plan to have more shows as the holidays roll around, with visits to nursing homes also planned.

Mount Rogers Powerhouse took a trip dealing with health and fitness and started a walking program through Mount Rogers, “which everybody absolutely loves.”

A lot of people can participate in Powerhouse activities, and Whisenhunt wants to reach out to them.

The staff is here to help, he said. Between three workers, they have 43 years of experience.

“Family members of consumers are more than welcome to come out and be a visitor to see what’s going on,” Whisenhunt said.

The clubhouse staff works to set goals for illness groups, and helps with socialization of illness groups, life skills and participates in advocacy and education about illnesses that people may have.

“At the end of the day, it’s their place. It’s their clubhouse — we just kind of open the door.”