Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Intake Matters: The art of moving in

By Intake & Resident Specialist Holly Gardner

This month I have been very busy with the cycle of families moving out and new ones being screened to move in.  This is a bit bitter sweet as we see our families strive to reach their employment, income and housing goals. We have been witness to struggles and also been witness to families becoming champions and owning their lives. In 3 to 4 months seeds are planted and in some lives there is a harvest, but there is always a beginning.

I screened a family that ran out of time at their shelter 24 hours after giving birth to their beautiful daughter.  We were able to get their apartment cleaned and set up with the basics, but did not have time to have the special apartment prep volunteers under such short notice.  When the volunteers come they take the time to personalize each apartment, make all the beds, cook a meal, stock the kitchen and bathrooms and do other niceties that I can say touches our families to their core on move in day. As much as I love it when the timing works out, there is also great opportunity when I get to work with the family more one on one in our donation basement.  This was one of those days.

Ms K and Mr M brought in their daughters and their very few belongings, filled out paperwork and then dove in to the fun task of picking out bedding, kitchen stuff, and other odds and ends that make a space feel like home.  I noticed the care Ms K took to look over what we had available, finally deciding on a set of brightly colored, square dishes that all matched. We built things from there. As she chose her items, I loaded them in a wagon and got things ready to switch parents so Mr M could bring things up the driveway and in to their unit.  We found some adorable clothing, too and special toys for their 2 year old daughter. These small things all add up to creating a new space and making it a home. Among the things she chose I could tell the light pink furry throw was going to get a lot of love!

As I coordinate our move ins, I remind myself that sometimes the days that I feel things fall a little short are the days I need to stay even more open to the gifts that day brings. As Ms K picked out her items, she talked with me about her broken relationships especially with her mom and how this move was giving her the space and time to heal, not just from having a new baby but from a trail of disappointments.  I listened and patiently helped her find strainers, can openers and what nots.   It took a few trips with the wagon but eventually we got Ms K’s treasures in to her new space and the glow on her face was all the thanks needed for a job well done.  I couldn’t fix the past, I couldn’t give her all the answers but I could help her rest a little easier that night knowing she and her family had this space for now and a community of people who will share their expertise and encourage her.

As I took the empty wagon back to the donation basement with a big smile on my face, the wagon bumping along empty for now but soon to be full, I reminded myself so too is the cycle of life here with our families. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Therapy Matters: "I Got a New Attitude".

By Therapist David Simpson

I met Mr. Z at the beginning of his time in the Community LINC program. The gentleman was very hesitant and suspicious of individual counseling, as he had experiences with “mental health” professionals throughout his life. However, he eventually began requesting frequent individual sessions. 

As a result, Mr. Z was able to adhere to expectations in legal agreements, maintain his sobriety and use his counseling sessions to learn and practice healthy coping skills/anger management strategies.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Employment Matters: It Was All Worth It

By Employment Coach Constance Taylor

“I really want to look nice for this job interview. I can stay at this job for the rest of my life and be able to take care of my family.” These words will never escape me when I think of this participant. He is so anxious to put his life back together again.

When he first came to the job lab, he was extremely insecure and unbelieving that anything would happen for him.  Although he could name many skills that he possessed, his work experience on the paper was very sporadic and unverifiable. He had no high school diploma or G.E.D. and no permanent residency. He had no computer knowledge, so applying online was out of the question.

It seemed all of the odds were against him.

His family moved to Kansas City from another state about 6 months ago. His goal was to start his life over again. His parents passed away, his car was repossessed, his house was foreclosed and he lost his job. His life spun out of control and he became consumed with drinking alcohol and he was angry.
I handed him paperwork to fill out, which helped me to gage his intellect. I discovered that he has the ability to finish his high school education and he is a fast learner.  He attended a computer class in the employment lab taught by “Connecting for Good” and he is able to use the computer independently now.

He secured a position with a large supermarket stripping and waxing floors overnight and he is very happy. He just had an opportunity to interview for another position at an area hospital. However, he likes his current position well enough to remain there. It is hard for him to believe that he went from no job leads to numerous inquiries. He spent hours in the lab submitting applications and answering questions and believes it was all worth it in the end.

He is now looking for housing and his family is very happy, content and grateful for a second chance at life.    

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Programs Matter: Invisible people

By Interim Case Manager Frenchie Pulluaim
I am always attending trainings, informational sessions, and conferences about topics that affect the families at Community LINC. March 24 through March 26th, I attended training that targeted something that is huge for most families in crisis.  The training was about Invisible people
Invisible people are people that affect someone’s household, but are never formally/officially counted as an expense to the household.  These are the non-working family members, boyfriends, buddies, and parents that eat, sleep, and partake of the benefits that a family receive, no matter how small the benefit is. 

This is a chronic problem for our families and usually coming into this program provides an opportunity to unload some of the invisible people they have been taking care of for years.  These are people who can stop a family from being successful.  This is a constant problem, not just for our agency, but most agencies.

We currently have a family with a son who is 21 plus. Our client is his mother, but she is no longer responsible for his welfare.  But, he always finds a way to live in the household physically (I feel that maternally mom feels obligated), but not on paper.  This son causes many issues for the mother. He has a poor choice of friends, disregards mom’s authority in front of the younger children, and is not applying himself in a positive way, although he has information/resources.

Mom has a son who is invisible in her household.

He increases the cost of caring for her family, but mom does not recognize/acknowledge that he is a part of her inability to get on her feet and become self-sufficient.

The training explored ways of working with the heads of household to assist them to see the cost of invisible people, and their responsibility to support their immediate household (children).  This was a sensitive because it is very difficult to tell residents/clients that they are too poor to assist their love ones.
This training was to learn how to apply motivational case management to create a comfort level with clients that will allow you to speak with them as they problem solve this issue.  Case managers should never undermine a client/resident’s self-worth by limiting their ability to reach out to family/friends in need. This class was to assist them to give without hurting their ability to remain stable and self-sufficient.

The class identified the problem not to be helping the invisible people in a family, but how the family chose to help the invisible people. 

Example:  Giving invisible people money will not help them, if they have problems with financial management.
Resolution:  This invisible person should be armed with resources and programs that will assist them with financial issues.  Receiving these resources could lead to housing, stability and opportunities they could not get from taking handouts from family members/family.

This would also make the invisible person independent and an asset to the Community LINC family in question.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Volunteers Matter: Group Project Highlight

By Volunteer Coordinator Kate Nevins

This month, First Baptist Church of Kearney youth group spent a day working at Community LINC. They have volunteered here before, and both times I have hosted this group, I have been impressed with how eager the kids are to work! 

Many teenagers prefer to hide out in their houses behind a computer monitor or a t.v. screen, but this group is proof that there are many young people who choose to venture out and work to make improvements in their communities. 

In one day, they cleaned out a large flower bed, worked on our playground, trimmed bushes, moved furniture, and hosted a barbeque for the residents and staff to enjoy! The barbeque was a success. Volunteers and Community LINC families played basketball, drew with sidewalk chalk, flew kites, ate together, and got to know one another. 

We are so grateful for all the support from our community.

If you are interested in providing more groundwork or playground improvements, please contact