Friday, September 18, 2015

The Power of Language

By Victoria Stracke, CTI Case Manager

Language is powerful. We have the opportunity, especially as front line workers, to empower the people we work with. This begins with the words we use and the way we frame our sentences. As an example: Is someone homeless? Or are they experiencing homelessness? The first sentence is likely the more popular phrase, but places someone in a box. It allows homelessness to define an individual. The second phrase comes from a mindset that the person is just that, a person.

When we use person-centered language, we acknowledge the challenges someone is facing while still recognizing their humanity and individuality. Person-centered language is hopeful, instead of placing someone in the role of “victim. “Individuals identify less with their challenges or limitations, and instead see a path for change and growth.

Communication is a powerful tool that can, and does, influence perspective (not only for individuals, but society as well). In knowing this, I am making a personal effort to be mindful of my words, especially when working with our residents. I believe by doing this, we have the opportunity to help our residents see past their barriers and provide them with the hope they need to imagine a brighter future for themselves—a future where they are not defined by where they live or what they can afford, but instead are recognized for who they are and what they are capable of.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Finding Community in Kansas City

By Myra Jenkins, Children’s Program Volunteer

Community LINC is a community within Kansas City.  In these buildings, there is a vibrant, safe place to call home. Though temporary, it offers support and steps to heal, regroup, and stabilize.  Staff, therapists, facilitators, advocates and donors come together with families in time of need. 

At Community LINC I have the privilege of being a Volunteer Advocate with the Children’s Program.  While parents receive support and skills to be re-housed and employed, we are trusted and responsible for watching over their children and teens – the neighborhood’s children.  I am part of a team that provides an environment for stress-free fun and learning resilience during a period of sudden change, stress, and uncertainty. 

I grew up in a family that felt being part of a community was a privilege that came with responsibility.  Through my parents I learned the importance and benefits of belonging to a community.  Every individual and family in our neighborhood was an active participant on one level or another, at one time or another, which allowed our community to thrive.

Our community came together in times of celebration, support or need.  Borrowing an egg, a cup of sugar, an ear to listen, giving a kind word and watching over the neighborhood children not only took care of a need, but bonded families and affirmed that we all needed each other.  It is how the good Lord made us – human.   It is how places become communities.  Though I am now miles away from that neighborhood and now call Kansas City my home, I continue to live life in the same spirit of sharing and service.

If being a member of a community means giving and receiving for the good of the community, then yes, I have become a member in Kansas City at Community LINC. I offer only time, support and friendship, but my spirit has gained so much more from this opportunity, this community.

Volunteering is a part of who I am and it all started as a teenager. My first volunteer role was candy striper at the local hospital. As an adult, I volunteered in hospice, as a grief facilitator, as a patient advocate in both nursing and assisted-living facilities, as a high school parent liaison. I volunteered with the American Red Cross during Hurricane Katrina, and with other various church and community activities. 

Life changes have blessed me with an opportunity to pursue a new career and because volunteerism has impacted my life, I am currently completing a degree in social work at the University of Central Missouri.