While fostering community is our primary task, our most significant assignment is case management. Our case management approach combines our Friendship Practice with coaching services and relief assistance where needed. Our coaching services are a client-directed, evidence-based system that utilizes information, skills, and techniques drawn from award-winning programs like Bridges Out of Poverty, Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World, and Crucial Conversations. We also employ clinical frameworks like Motivational Interviewing, Harm Reduction Therapy, and Stages of Change. We help our friends explore the changes they want to pursue and increase motivation towards those changes. We also accompany our clients in their journey, providing the support needed to lower the anxiety associated with change.
Though clients come to us in many different ways, we try to keep the process the same for each person.
- In-person meeting: We meet the client in a casual setting where we try to get to know each other. We do an informal assessment and intake, getting the necessary information for the first steps, and determining where they are in the stages of change.
- Debrief: Our coaches meet, discuss the client’s needs, and develop half of the plan, which includes looking up relevant partners, scheduling the necessary appointments, and developing a contact schedule. The contact schedule provides relational touches that are built into our Friendship Practice. We also think through which tools are appropriate for getting the client to the next stage of change.
- Depending on the expressed needs of the client, we either begin working on the items (i.e. obtaining vital records, building a resume, going to the clinic, enrolling in school, etc.) or arranging another meeting. In this follow-up meeting, we flesh out further fears and hindrances to achieving goals or to begin developing a short-term plan.
- We begin the cycle of follow-up meetings until the client has completed her goals. There must be much more grace given when it comes to failing to follow through on the plan. Ofttimes, it’s not because the client doesn’t want to follow through on the plan, its because their lives are so chaotic.
Over the past 15 years, the non-profit community has realized that there can be harmful, unintended consequences in our attempts to help others. Of the many possible unhealthy areas, two of which are of specific concern to us are the dignity and agency of charity recipients. We harm people when we deny their ability to problem-solve for themselves, and when we fail to acknowledge and activate the assets they naturally possess. In short, we exclude them from participating in their development. As Robert Lupton, founder and president of Focused Community Strategies writes, “To the extent the poor are enabled to participate in the system intended to serve them, their self-worth is enhanced” (Toxic Charity, 130). We employ Lupton’s Oath for Compassionate Service to aid more effectively:
- Never do for others what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
- Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.
- Strive to empower through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements.
- Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served.
- Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said-unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.
- Above all, do no harm.
This commitment to client-directed planning and healthy charity shapes the kinds of courses and programming we offer. For example, we’ve chosen SMART Recovery as our addiction recovery tool because SMART Recovery is a self-management program as opposed to an expert-management program. It places the ability for change in the hands of the client, thereby acknowledging the client’s agency. Another illustration is the limited amount of “relief” assistance that we offer. We know many of our friends are capable of meeting their needs even though they believe or have been led to believe that they are not. They often need someone to help them think through the individual steps and sometimes take the steps with them. Indeed, this process is much slower than merely doing it for them. But, in the end, they are better for it. Below is a list of ways we currently assist our friends.
1.) Community Building
- Involve local businesses & partner organizations
- Trunk or Treat events for families
- Game & Tailgate events
- Movie Nights
- Family-Style Meals
- Meals during off weeks as cook-out
- Friday Morning Pancakes for community court participants
- Bi-Weekly Saturday Cook-Outs
2.) Relief Services
- Snacks & Water
- Personal Care (showers, etc.)
- Mail Delivery
- Community Court
- State & Federal Court
- Health & Medical
- HIV/STI & Other Health Screenings
- Job Placement & Application
- Vital Records Acquisition
4.) Personal Development
- Life Coaching
- Individual Counseling
- Virtual or In-Person
- Cognitive Skills & Life Skills Classes
- Addiction Recovery Support