Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Children Matter: A New Card to Play

By Children’s Program Director Ryan Blake
The first couple times I met with Marcus, I could see in his eyes that he was angry. Our conversations usually consisted of how he was arguing with his family, upset about where he lived, mad at other kids, or frustrated at school. Whatever the situation was that day, he was unequipped to control his emotions. Sometimes he would get so upset that he was unable to verbalize how he felt or what went wrong. Marcus started the 4th grade this year and has already been suspended 3 times for anger related incidents.
We began working one-on-one with Marcus on program nights. We focused his lessons on anger management, regulation of emotions, and controlling impulses. Marcus has been incredibly receptive to our classes. He relates the material to situations in his life and reflects on how his decisions affect those around him. He has never missed a class.
Last night I spoke with Marcus after class. He told me he read a book called When Sophie Gets Angry..Really, Really Angry (by Molly Bang). He described the story to me and explained that Sophie went outside and looked at the water to calm down. I asked what he does to calm down. He told me he sits on the front porch and watches cars when he gets really worked up. I asked him what if he couldn’t go outside because he was in the middle of a math lesson at school. He told me “your answer is to get a drink of water, take deep breaths, or tell the teacher what is going on. My answer is usually to yell at whoever is bothering me or make them stop.” I asked him what one will keep you in school. He pointed to me and said “I know, I will try.”
I know that Marcus will probably continue to have anger problems at school. But I think we both feel better knowing that he doesn’t have to yell or push someone. He now has another card to play.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Aftercare Matters: Putting it all together

By Aftercare Critical Time Intervention Case Manager Sara Barrett
Our first eight families to work through the Aftercare Program will be graduating this month.
All of the families are employed, and three have increased their income or been promoted in their current jobs. Over the last nine months they have saved over $5000 and paid off over $4000 in debt, including credit cards, outstanding warrants and tickets, property tax arrearages and payday loans.   Two families have purchased vehicles and insurance.
Three families have accessed higher education or trade school to increase their education and knowledge base. One family has accessed Small Business Education through a partnering agency and has begun the blueprints for her already growing small business, as well as a savings account to prepare for expansion of her business.
Two families have enrolled in substance abuse support to deal with previous or current addictions. Four families have accessed mental health and emotional wellness services to improve the relationships within their family setting.
The beauty of Aftercare is seeing clients move beyond a “program mentality” and moving into their own dreams, believing they can move forward after the trauma of experiencing homelessness. Life does not stop at a roof over their heads, that is just the beginning; the first page to a new story. As the aftercare worker, I have learned to see beyond the walls of program requirements and my idea of what looks possible for a family. I am moved by the honor of walking with these families for the last nine months, and forever inspired to push beyond the difficult circumstances life can bring to something greater.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Therapy Matters: Childhood abuse is a trauma for life

By Director of Mental Wellness, Gail Byers
Typically during sessions the client is asked to tell about their childhood experiences, like who raised them, any significant experiences (loss of parents) etc. 
This particular client had participated in a group the evening before on child sexual abuse.  In discussing her childhood experiences she stated “I started prostituting when I was nine years old.  Old Mr. Jones would pay me all the time to sit on his lap.  I would take the money and buy candy and stuff.” 
As a therapist I often am the recipient of statements that are meant to shock.  However, such statements are really asking for clarification and/or validation. 
We reviewed the subject content of the previous group and the client literally had an ‘ah-hah’ moment.  She asked, “then I was not a prostitute?’ 
I responded, “no, you were a child, you were victimized.”  Her whole countenance changed with a sense of relief. 
This client, a 45 year old woman, believed this notion of being a prostitute, beginning at age nine, for thirty six years.  You can only imagine the impact that this belief has had on her self-worth and the decisions she has made in her life thus far.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Families Matter: A permanent home

By Family Coach Frenchie Pulluaim
Today, Marlon Wells and his family completed the program here at Community LINC.  This family was referred to us by the City Union Mission Shelter, they had been sleeping here and there before going into the shelter.  Due to the break- up of Mr. Wells and his wife and the loss of employment this family was on a downward free fall.  The family had no income and was tired of struggling from one closed door to another.

The stress of not being able to provide for his family was wearing Mr. Wells down, and causing issues for his school age children.  Since moving into the Community LINC transitional housing, Mr. Wells has gained employment, his oldest daughter has returned to school and is looking forward to graduation, and best of all they are moving into their own permanent home, a townhouse.  Moving into their own home is bigger than Christmas for this family, it has been a long time since they have had their own home. 
Although Mr. Wells and his family are thankful to Community LINC , Community LINC is  honored and pleased to see families turn their lives around and reach their goals. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jobs Matter: Hard work, determination, and faith equals immediate turnaround

By Employment Services Job Coach Constance Taylor
Hard work, determination, and faith have paid off for Katrina, one of our newest residents. 
It has been less than a month since Katrina moved to our community with her thirteen year old daughter.  She didn’t have a job or a place to live, but she was determined to put her life back together again. 
She applied for a position with an area hospital but didn’t believe that she would even get an interview.  So she came faithfully to the employment lab to apply for other jobs.
The call that we were waiting for finally came and she had her first interview.  I remember asking her several practice interview questions, but she froze up in fear and couldn’t respond to any of the questions.
I suggested that she write down her answers and we would try again the next day.  She left that day discouraged about her inability to respond. 
She went back to her apartment and began to focus on the positive outcomes if she got the job.  Her motivation came from seeing that she would have a place of her own to care for her daughter and a second chance to redeem success in life. This job was a chance of a lifetime and she knew she could not allow this opportunity to pass her by.
She came back the next morning with a positive attitude and a burst of energy.  I knew she was a perfect candidate for the position because she had  both the skills necessary and the past experience.  After a second interview she was offered the position. She begins her new job next week and her income with benefits is a living wage.  
She believes perseverance, the relief she felt in finding interim housing at Community LINC, along with the encouragement that she received from our support staff have been the biggest influence to her success.   
Congratulations to Katrina for a job well done!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Program Matters: So What Is Self-Sufficiency?

By Senior Director of Programs and Operations Jeannine Short
Many organizations serving disenfranchised populations tout as some part of their mission the goal of helping families achieve self-sufficiency.  Concordantly, such organizations have done well to implement programs and service delivery models, along with outcomes measurement processes, toward this end. 
Self-sufficiency, according to Webster, is 1) the ability to supply one’s own needs without external assistance; and 2) having extreme confidence in one’s own resources, powers, etc.
From this perspective, it stands to reason that government would invest dollars in large-scale workforce development programs and prescribe sanctions for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients who choose not to engage in workforce activities; also, that local-level agencies would invest dollars in job skills and job readiness programs. 
What does not stand to reason, however, is that while there seems to be vested interest in providing opportunities aimed at creating or increasing income, HUD’s outcomes measurement of the percentage of families exiting programs with increased income seems to fly in the face of self-sufficiency.  How? Because the measurement includes not only earned income, but also “income” received through TANF.
So what, then, is self-sufficiency? Is it the ability to supply one’s own needs, or is it the ability to meet those needs through mainstream resource systems?  If the latter, would “inter-sufficiency” be a more appropriate term?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Volunteers Matter: Rent Party Volunteers

By Volunteer Coordinator Kate Nevins
Board member Brad Korris & wife Missy Bruhn at check in.
On Saturday, September 28th, after months of preparation, it was finally the night of Community LINC’s annual fundraiser - the Rent Party.
Equally excited and exhausted from all the work it had taken to get there, the planning committee watched as the first guests arrived. I was overwhelmed by how much support we had received.
The auction committee had worked tirelessly to secure more auction items than ever before, and the night-of volunteers were there to add structure for the evening, from check-in and check-out to raffle ticket sales.
It was an exciting night for everyone - attendees, volunteers and staff. And, Community LINC raised a record $635,000!
This would not be possible without the support of our volunteers.  From everyone at Community LINC, THANK YOU for donating your time and talent.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Aftercare Matters: Growth Happens in Small Successes

By Aftercare Critical Time Intervention Case Manager, Sara Barrett
As the first group of Aftercare families comes to a place of completing services, we are taking time to look back with each family and note the successes had since moving from interim housing to permanent housing.
Each family, at the beginning of services completes a Needs Assessment to rate their strengths and needs in the following categories: Basic Needs of housing, food, furniture, finances, clothing and transportation, Parent and Child needs of Education, Employment, Mental Health, Physical Health, Substance Abuse and Legal Concerns, and Family Relationships including adult to adult, parent to child, sibling and parent relationships. Child Safety Risk and Domestic Violence are also assessed.
Clients work with the Aftercare Worker to determine where they see their own family. Needs Assessments are completed consistently throughout the program to determine success, change and show areas of needed growth. Aftercare services are then tailored to meet the needs expressed on the Assessment.
Self-Assessment and reflection, I have seen, is sometimes a scary and difficult part of Aftercare for our clients. Many of them fear looking back through the time and are resistant at first to discuss the history of our service time together. They automatically assume failure for themselves.
As we sit and look at each of the small categories of need, making up the whole picture of their hard work in Aftercare, I slowly see them relax and a smile build across their faces.
100% of all of the families actively participating in Aftercare have seen improvements in all categories of assessed need during their time in the program. This is great news.
More importantly however, families are learning to recognize their own successes to be proud of and understand that growth does not just stop at obtaining a roof to live under; but it is a continual process.