Friday, September 2, 2016

Remember To Take Nothing for Granted!

By Alicia Horton, Mobile Assessment Case Manager

Each and every day most of us experience stability. We have a place to stay, food to eat and a car to drive. We have these luxuries as part of our normal daily routine.

Now picture your life without just one of the three, let alone all three at once.

The thought is SCARY to say the least; right?

Well, these are just a few of the daily struggles of the families we meet at Community LINC. It’s extremely sad and disheartening.

One of the things I enjoy most about being here at Community LINC is, right from the very start we try and meet family’s right where they are!

For example, if they’re struggling to get from place to place, we can provide on the spot intake screenings. This limits the number of times a family has to travel for services while in crisis. We can connect families with local food pantries, health care providers and other community-related services to help a family in need.  It’s truly a beautiful thing!

Seeing the daily struggles of these families in crisis makes me truly grateful for the people (family, friends and co-workers) in my life.


Community LINC is truly the most rewarding and humbling job I’ve had.  I make myself remember to take nothing for granted.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Transition

Submitted by Emily Lyons, CTI Case Manager

Transition is hard, but Community LINC is here to make it a little bit easier.

New home, new school, new neighborhood, new sounds, new routine. Transition is hard. Transition is even harder when it involves uncertainty. Families who are experiencing homelessness often struggle with knowing what comes next, and once they do find a more stable place to stay, whether that be with a friend or relative, at a shelter or a community program, most of the uncertainty remains with them: What happens when I have to leave here? When will my time be up? What will we do then? Its questions like these that make already difficult situations turn into impossible tasks. Here at Community LINC, we walk side by side with our residents to make these transitions less daunting. From the day residents enter the program, they are supported by staff to look for employment, enroll children in school, obtain permanent housing, and connect with community resources in order to make their transition to the next chapter of their lives easier. Even after our families leave the furnished apartments on Community LINC’s campus, they are still supported for nine months during our Aftercare program. Preparing our residents to embrace their new chapter is sometimes challenging, but more times than not, it is simply rewarding – especially when through good preparation, the uncertainty diminishes and the excitement regarding their next steps escalates.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Strong Parents Help Build Stable Children

Submitted by Griselda Williams, Manager Mental Wellness Services

Recently, several coworkers and I met to discuss our annual report for the Children’s Trust Fund (CTF), Missouri’s Foundation for Child Abuse Prevention. The grant funds mental wellness services at Community LINC, for children and youth ages 6-17. Mental wellness services are provided by a Child Therapist to include individual therapy, socialization, coping group therapy and often sibling group therapy.  As we were discussing interventions for children and youth our conversation naturally moved toward mental wellness supports provided to the parents. Some of the topics shared with Community LINC parents to support stable families and safety of children include:
  • Protective Factors for Strengthening Families (taken from training offered via the Children’s Trust Fund).
    •  Concrete support for parents in times of need
    • Parent Resilience
    • Social Connections
    • Social and Emotional Competence
    • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
  • Parents as Role Model (Open discussion from the, Children See, Children Do video).
  • Why Does My Child Act Like That? (We discussed the four archetypes for child misbehavior).
  • How Well Do You Know Your Child? (Parents were given a handout with questions about their child’s favorite color, video game, best friend, etc. Parents met with their children to discuss their responses.
  • Child Development for children birth to 5 with the Ages and Stages Questionnaire and Social, emotional and cognitive development of children ages 6-17.
  • How to Help Your Child after a Traumatic Event (such as homelessness).


When parents have information and feel supported there is less risk for child abuse and neglect. These “protective factors” help families succeed and increase their resiliency during stressful times; like when they are experiencing homelessness. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Win, Win

By Tylynn Washington, Immediate Housing Case Manager

Community LINC’s Landlord Locator builds a strong inventory of available housing options for Community LINC’s families.  Major responsibilities include housing location and fostering working relationships with landlords.  Working closely with the Housing Specialist, we develop and implement strategies for retaining these housing options and communicate landlord’s issues, concerns, and conflicts to staff and families, to ensure a family can secure and retain permanent housing.

What is Rapid Re-housing?
  • Rapid re-housing serves individuals and families experiencing homelessness who need time-limited assistance in order to get and keep housing.
  •  It reduces the length of time people experience homelessness, minimizes the impact of homelessness on their lives, and facilitates their access to resources in the community.
  • Rapid re-housing programs often use a relatively light-touch approach to financial assistance and supportive services, seeking to provide just enough assistance to help families get back into housing, while being available to offer additional support or connections to other resources and programs if more help is needed.

  Even so, data indicate that 90 percent of households served by Rapid Re-housing are successfully housed and do not return to shelter. This approach allows communities to assist more households with the same resources.

Working With Landlords in Rapid Re-housing

How do landlords think?
Rental housing is a dollars and cents business.  Landlords and management companies are in the business of reducing risk and maximizing return on investments.  Rapid Re-housing providers need to adopt a business-oriented or market-driven approach to recruiting and engaging property owners and management companies.  In many ways, I am “selling a product” in the open market.  I have to convince property owners that our “product” will meet their needs and address their concerns.

Marketing the program
Marketing is one of the best tools to use in developing a pool of landlords and management companies who are willing to rent directly to our families. Another good tool is giving the landlord a list of commitments that will inspire them to partner with Community LINC as we work to make our mission a reality. Like…..
  • Rental Assistance
  • Rental Conflict Advocacy
  • Quarterly Housing Partner Luncheons (people love to eat J)

 Keeping landlords happy
At the end of the day, one of my main concerns as a Landlord Locator is to maintain good relationships. Keeping the lines of communication open by following up with property owners and agents, keeping our commitments, putting what I was taught as a Realtor to use and operating with integrity and honesty is what I try to do for each landlord.

These partnerships pay off for the landlords and for our families. Landlords have the confidence in their leases with Community LINC families, and our families have housing options they otherwise would not. If you or someone you know might be interested in becoming a landlord partner with Community LINC, contact me at twashington@communitylinc.org or 816.389.8252.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Children's Matters: Love Louder

By Children Program Manager, Joshua Chittum



A mother and daughter participating in our Interim Housing Program recently attended the Love Louder conference at UMKC. Their attendance to the conference was made possible by a donor who covered the registration fee. Also, thank you to Love Louder organizers who gave us a discount. The following is a Q&A with Mom about their weekend experience.  


1. What is Love Louder? 
It is a two day conference for girls between 5-14 that encourages participants to love themselves and increase their self-worth.  

2. What was your favorite part? 
I enjoyed how the conference facilitators were so open and friendly to the parents and children. They gave so many helpful tips on loving ourselves. 

3. What did your daughter like about the conference? 
My daughter loved dancing and singing with the others girls and instructors. She learned to give love to herself every day. Since we attended, she has started jumping up and down in front of the mirror each day saying, "I love me!"  

4. Anything else you would like to mention? 
The mothers, aunts, and grandmothers got to go to groups for adults during the conference. It was refreshing to share information about our kids and their self-worth. My daughter and I are going to go again when it comes back next May.  
  
If you are aware of conferences, camps, and enrichment activities that will benefit children at Community LINC, please reach out to me!  - Joshua Chittum * jchittum@communitylinc.org


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Learning How to Handle Conflict Pays Off

By Constance Taylor, Program Manager and Employment Job Coach

Community LINC’s goal is always to see our families back on their feet, secure in housing and gainfully employed. I was so impressed each time I saw Kim with her four children. She would have her twins in a stroller and the two older children walking alongside them. I wanted to jump in and help but for fear of complicating things I would just stand back and watch her make it happen. I finally realized she had her own system that worked.

Kim seemed so young to have so many children to care for alone. Because of her past evictions, her only option is a landlord willing to give her a chance to prove she will pay rent and maintain his property in good condition. She has been employed for two months now and makes a livable wage. She recently secured another part-time job working weekends. 


She has eliminated several warrants and reported to court several times concerning a domestic disturbance that existed before she came to Community LINC. She has not only expressed her desire to react to conflict differently but we have witnessed her ability to work through some challenging situations. She vows to work, manage her home and take care of her children. The progress she has already made while managing four children on her own shows her dedication. She is looking for this second chance for housing now and is ready to move forward. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Art as a Tool for Healing

By Griselda Williams, Manager Mental Wellness Services

For many years, art has been used as a tool to promote healing with various groups of people. Art is used with persons with Alzheimer’s’ disease and other health issues. There are art programs in the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems. Art has been used in therapy with persons challenged with mental health diagnoses and persons with disabilities. Art is used in other regions of the United States, as well as the world by organizations positively impacting persons traumatized by earthquakes, war, floods, tornadoes and other traumatic events.

According to Gretchen Miller, Registered Board Certified Art Therapist, “Art expression is a powerful way to safely contain and create separation from the terrifying experience of trauma without the necessity of or reliance on verbal language to share ones story”. This creative tool “can become a visual voice that can help retrieve content from lower-functioning parts of the brain where traumatic experiences live without words and can transform into drawings on paper, molded into clay, painted onto a canvas and more”. Art experiences “safely gives voice to and makes a survivor’s experience of emotions, thoughts and memories visible when words are insufficient.”

I recently attended the Housing First Partners conference in Los Angeles, California, where persons who had experienced homelessness used art as a tool for healing. Homelessness is considered a traumatic event so it would stand to reason that art would benefit persons with this experience. Men and women that participated in the Skid Row Homeless Support Program in downtown Los Angeles made art items to sell and earn income at the Housing First Partners conference. People who lived homeless experiences were at the conference, share the use of art, poetry and music to tell their stories and some had published their work. These individuals shared their publications and work and how participating in art therapy helped them heal and increase their self-esteem and self-worth. Others shared how being able to make art helped them feel there was something they did well, something they had control over and something that was theirs alone that no one could take from them. One man shared that using poetry to express how he felt inside was a positive way of getting all of the negative and fearful feelings out in a harmless way versus in an angry or self-destructive way.

As part of our program group meetings at Community LINC, I often offer artful experiences with our program participants. Recently, I offered old keys, a painted canvas and other items for a collage. The collage title for each participant was to be called, “The Key To My……”   Each participant was asked to fill the blank canvas with pictures, words and symbols reflecting on the title. When the women’s group members finished their collages they shared hopes, dreams, goals, regrets and lessons learned through their collages. They were able to imagine a new life and depict this in their collages which in turn helped them to identify their goals and therefore steps needed to reach the goals.


We often use ‘art as a tool for healing’ experiences in our program groups often. Each time, I hear our residents say how helpful the experience was for increasing their awareness and insight, as well as how it helped them connect to their hopes and dreams. Pictures of some of the finished collages were posted on our Facebook because the group members felt proud of what they produced and they wanted to share them with others.