Friday, January 20, 2017

A New Start

By Alicia Horton, Mobile Assessment Worker

Bree, a single, working mother and her children have lived without a home for the past 3 months, due to a few unfortunate events. When they first became homeless, the family stayed with whoever would let them. We call this house hopping or couch surfing. The family would sleep on the floor or on a couch. They lived with constant fear of being asked to leave, and any sense of freedom or privacy was lost.  After wearing out their welcome with family and friends, the family ended up sleeping in their car until they were able to find temporary housing in an emergency shelter.

After a few days at the shelter, Bree’s caseworker referred her to Community LINC.  I called to schedule an intake screening. Since she’s a full-time employee working 9 to 5pm, I agreed to meet with her at her place of employment. One of the great opportunities at Community LINC is that we can meet family’s right where they are, reducing the stress of having to make arrangements for transportation or take time off work.

The family is now in the processing of being housed with Community LINC! This is a great start to the family’s journey to being self-sufficient again.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Keep Pushing Forward

By Employment Job Coach Constance Taylor

When Ms. Joiner shared that her job was moving to another state, I searched for the right words to say.  I knew how hard this young lady had worked to secure position. The hourly wage was sufficient for permanent housing. She had just purchased a truck. The kids were all in daycare and the daycare payment fit her budget. How could this be happening? Not right now!

Ms. Joiner had just been approved for her new home. The income from her job allowed her to become self–sufficient.  She was now faced with no income. I assured her everything would be okay and reminded her that with her motivation and tenacity she would have another job very soon, “You just wait and see.” 

As we talked, I learned more about her dream job, and what type of career would inspire her. Although she never complained, she did tell me that the last job was only a stepping stone to where she wanted to be. She needed her high school diploma to move forward. She just didn’t have the time to devote to improving her education; her priority was having the income necessary to providing a home for her five children.  She also shared her desire to reinstate her Certified Nursing Assistance (CNA) license so that she could go back to taking care of people who were unable to care for themselves. At that moment I reflected back on the day she came to Community LINC.  She maneuvered with the twins in a double stroller and another young child walking alongside her. Each child was intently listening and following her instructions.  She was a natural nurturer and helping her reinstate her CNA was the way to get her back on track. We located the funds to pay for the license and she quickly registered for an upcoming test. Within a few weeks, she received her certificate and was on her way. She networked with some people in the healthcare field and was hired very quickly.

Ms. Joiner enjoys her new job and is excited about the benefits that include transportation to work if she ever needs it.  Recently, she was offered an opportunity for a paid training course to become a Certified Medical Technician. If successful, she’ll increase her salary. She works manyof her off days and just secured part-time employment with another company on the weekends.

Ms. Joiner is a perfect example of what it means to keep pushing forward.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy New Beginning

By Victoria Jonas, CTI Case Manager

The New Year has given me cause to reflect back on my first few months as a Case Manager at Community LINC. Once client in particular stands out for me.

In November, Community LINC helped a young mother and her beautiful baby boy move into their first apartment. This client was able to find housing before her scheduled exit date. She is now employed full time as a security guard and really enjoys her job. Her employment allows her to pay fair market value for her apartment.

This client struggled with homelessness and “couch surfing” for two years due to her poor family dynamics and her mother’s ongoing substance abuse issues. She gave birth to her son during her homelessness. However, throughout her stay at Community LINC, she displayed great connection and parenting skills toward her son.

The week that the client moved to her own apartment, she was able to take her son to get a professional photograph taken. She was so proud to show them off to all of the program staff.

It was very humbling to work with this family as a new CTI-Case Manager and watch her become self-sufficient. I look forward to working with her during aftercare and watching her continue to grow.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Gifts


By Holly Gardner, Intake and Resident Specialist

The staff here at Community LINC are just wrapping up our Christmas holiday time period.  What an exciting time to be part of this team! Christmas impacts all of us in very different ways but one thing we do have in common is enjoying the spirit of Christmas and it comes to us every year in many different forms. I have learned that it’s the unexpected and spontaneous acts of love that bless me the most and I do my best to stay aware of that on our busy days.

This year the highlight for me was moving six families into apartments and helping to coordinate Christmas adoptions so that the incoming families were connected with an adopting organization. It’s a huge effort to coordinate the organizations’ need to give and the families’ need for some sort of Christmas Day festivities. It’s a special challenge for those families moving in from shelters the month of December. Christmas can seem daunting as the parent(s) try to establish themselves in a new environment and meet their goals. It was an honor to be part of this process, to see the staff from adopting organizations coming to Community LINC with their gifts, always bright eyed, smiling and so very happy to know they are impacting people in such fun and positive ways. As I was home with my family, feeling very blessed and a little weary too, I couldn’t help but think about our families here at Community LINC. How their winter break was going and how many parents and bright-eyed children we had smiling on this Christmas day.


With a New Year full of new projects and new adventures, I recognize that soon enough the month of December will be back around with its challenges of coordinating the practical side of the holidays. I think on this with an uplifted spirit knowing that the true gifts will again be the unmeasurable ones.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hope

By Emily Lyons, CTSI Case Manager

As one of the family coaches here at Community LINC I get the privilege of walking beside our residents on their journey. Often, their paths are littered with obstacles that take time and perseverance to overcome. Because of such, one of my most important tasks as a family coach is to instill hope in our residents. Hope – something that we all need but often lack in a time of trial. It's hoping for a bigger and brighter tomorrow that is often hard for our residents to see when the hurdles seem overwhelming and unconquerable. For me, Community LINC is a community filled with hope.


Just look around our campus. Walk around the playground after evening program – you will hear sweet giggles from our residents’ children. Visit our wellness groups, and you will see residents sharing snacks while learning new life skills. Listen in on a one on one meeting with a resident – you will hear positive dialog, encouragement, and hope. Hope for our residents, hope for better days, and hope for the future where homelessness is a thing of the past – that’s what Community LINC is all about.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Children’s Matters: Not Throwing Away Your Dreams

By Jamie Lyon KCYA artist and Community LINC Volunteer

My name is Jaime Lyon, and I am a freelance visual art teacher that celebrates the creative process while emphasizing and encouraging self-esteem, self-awareness, and confidence. I’m fortunate enough to be a teaching artist at Kansas City Young Audiences. KCYA has partnered with Community LINC where I currently teach a residency art class. These monthly classes include a variety of projects ranging from self-portraits, masks, journals to handcrafted shields and vision boards.

One of my recent vision board classes was broken up into two sessions. Our first evening included flipping through magazines in hopes of finding images that captured the student's dreams and goals. These pictures ranged from fancy cars to simple cartons of milk. Not every student was finding the perfect photos so I had them tell me specific dreams I could find online and I promised them I would print photos to bring for our second session. I loved learning the dreams of these hopeful and amazing kids aged 9-17. Some dreams included nice homes, sports cars, high school diplomas, college degrees, friendships, happy family members, careers, candy, pets and so much more. As I wrote down their dreams and images to research, we talked about the importance of a dream and how we have to set goals to achieve our dreams. We talked about hard work, resiliency and accountability.

Our second session was very productive. The students gathered all of their images and glued them to a poster board. Some had twenty items to glue some had three. We celebrated their individual creations while continuing our conversations of gratitude, worthiness, and achievements. I found myself drawn to a 17-year-old girl who had worked intently and quietly on her vision board. She laid out her pictures and wrote captions under every item. She had big dreams! She wanted to finish high school and graduate with honors and then go to college and become a very successful business woman. She would then have a beautiful home with a huge pool and guest house. She wanted happy friends in her life and a healthy family. She also wanted to maintain a good relationship with her Mom. She said her Mom was very important to her and she always wanted her in her life.

As we wrapped the class this gentle soul told me to just keep her vision board; she said she didn’t want it! It broke my heart. This sweet child had spent two full hours visualizing, dreaming, setting goals and making plans! She was so close to believing her dreams could come true. But just like that, she was willing to throw it all away… LITERALLY. She didn’t want this vision board, which represented a VERY BRIGHT FUTURE. Her shoulders and head sank as she began to walk away. I stopped her from leaving and pleaded with her to PLEASE reconsider. “Please take this vision board home and display it proudly. See your dreams every day. Share these dreams with your Mom. She’ll want to see your future!”


With slight reluctance, she kept the vision board.” I was relieved as she left with it in her hands!  After the students had been gone and the room was clear I hoped this lesson would help these amazing kids realize their potential. As I was leaving, I saw the young lady who almost threw her art away speaking with her Mom. She was showing her the very masterpiece she had almost let go. Her Mom, who had clearly been at work all day, was wiping the tears from her face. Her mom was so emotional and so very proud of her. I introduced myself and told her about our lesson and how amazing I thought her daughter was. The tears kept flowing as she complimented her daughter for her creation and me for the lesson. They embraced as they continued to review the vision board. Her mom was excited to see a bright future for her daughter. She even joked that she would love to live in her daughter’s guest house. It was a very moving moment. I think the student was glad she didn’t throw her vision board away. Her mom insisted they hang it up in the living room where they could both enjoy visualizing their future! That is Inflated JOY! Wow, I love what I get to do! Who will you encourage today?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thank You Community LINC

Shared by a current Community LINC program participant

My name is Lachelle* and I have two children. For several years I was in a domestic violence situation that had control over my life. I reached out to different agencies to help me get re-established, and I became domestic violence free. Over the years I had moved around a lot and was in debt. We lost our place of residence, and I did not know where to turn, so I went to a local homeless shelter with my two children. I felt ashamed, embarrassed and lost. The homeless shelter sent me to Community LINC, and once my kids and I moved into the Community LINC program, our lives began to change for the better. The Community LINC staff and supporters helped my family learn how to move forward with our lives. My youngest child made new friends that had the same experiences that he did. The new friendships have helped my son feel he has peers who he can talk openly with about his experiences. The program also helped him with coping tools to deal with homelessness and an understanding of how to manage a world of uncertainty. I, too, was given several supports in the way of budgeting classes and healthy lifestyle group topics that were helpful for me. I also participated in individual therapy sessions that helped me find myself, tap into my strengths and identify the barriers that were getting in the way of my progress. While I was learning about my barriers, I also learned how to overcome them, as well as how to support my children as we journeyed to a more stable life. I will forever be grateful for this program. God has blessed this program and blessed us to be able to be a part of it. Since we have been at Community LINC, I have gained a full-time job, found permanent housing for my family, returned to church, and I now connected to helpful resources in the community. I would like to say “thank you” to the Community LINC staff for believing in us and giving us this opportunity to get our lives back on track. 

*Name have been changed to protect the identity of the program participant