Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The blog this week was written by Allison Hammond, Program Director at The Arcadia Institute.
In the Community Broker Process, one of the most important steps is helping the person discover who is in their community outside of family and special services staff. Often people have not really been asked to name the people in their community. Listing family, close family friends and service/school staff comes easy, but who else does the person know that would be a valuable part of the Community Broker Process. Often during other encounters with the person we discover more connections. Maybe it is someone from a store the person goes to frequently, perhaps it’s a staff person from a place where the person volunteers, perhaps it is another church members.
The person and families often worry about “bothering” people and don’t think that people will come to a meeting. The Community Broker manages this by being responsible for sending out the invitations to the MAP or PATH meeting and coordinating RSVP’s. Most of the time even if people cannot attend because of a scheduling conflict, they respond positively to being invited. On occasions invitees even have provided written input about the person’s gifts and where they could be shared in the community. These comments are often valuable during the MAP or PATH meeting.
Receiving input from the person’s community beyond the usual family and special services staff is what often distinguishes Community Brokering from mental health person centered plans or school individual education plans. The persons community can help open doors and create paths to possibilities that have not been noticed before.
Below is a MAP of a persons Community.
Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
The blog this week was written by Jennifer Goodwill, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.
In Community Brokering, one of the tools we use in getting to know an individual and in preparing for a Future Planning Meeting or MAP is to talk with an individual about their weekly routine. This is a simple and non-intimidating way for us to learn more about a person’s interests, priorities, and community connections. We actually make a calendar and ask them to help us fill it in with their regularly occurring activities. The obvious benefit of doing this together is that it enables us to see clearly what days of the week and times of the day the individual is available to look at new activities or employment in the community. The less obvious reason for doing this is because it gives us greater insight into the individual’s personality. We learn more about their likes and dislikes. After completing the weekly routine for one person, we learned that he spent a great deal of time in the community walking around downtown. But, each day in the later afternoon, he sought out a small park where he could find quiet and be away from people. Learning this about his routine, led us into a deeper discussion about his need to have balance in his life between being social and around friends, and with having a quiet place where he could retreat and enjoy some solitude. This insight into his personality has been helpful over time as we have supported him in finding housing and volunteer opportunities in the community.
Discussing a person’s routine is also helpful in learning more about who the people are in an individual’s community circle. Sometimes when we are talking with an individual about who they would like to invite to be a part of their MAP, or who do they know that might be a reference for them on an employment application, the person struggles to think of names. As we look at their weekly routine, we are able to see different places where they are spending time and this can help us form thoughtful suggestions about who to ask to be a reference or invite to a MAP. One young man was preparing to graduate from school, and we were focusing on his future schedule and how he would spend his time now that his days were going to be open. As I asked about his current schedule and work studies he enjoyed doing in the community as a student, he talked about a retirement community where he went with other students every week to volunteer. This was something he liked doing, so I reached out to the volunteer coordinator at the retirement community to ask about opportunities for him to continue volunteering with them. It turns out she knew this individual very well and loved the idea of having him continue to work with them. His parents and I learned that he had developed relationships with both the staff and residents at this retirement community. Since then, these individuals have participated in his MAP and he volunteers with them every week. Talking about someone’s weekly routine has been a helpful tool in Community Brokering, as it opens the doors to deeper and more meaningful conversations about a person’s interests and future goals.
Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, September 9, 2014
The blog this week was written by Deborah Warfield, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.
In order to build anything that one can expect to last for a time, a solid foundation must be put in place. In order for the Community Broker to successfully co-navigate the moving of persons with disabilities into more inclusive opportunities, ample time must be spent in getting to really know the individual. When asked what I do for a living I often reply, “I get paid to hang out with people, get to know them and their circles and find out what they want to really be doing during the course of their day.” It doesn’t even feel like work. But work it is and it is also considered one of the first and very major steps towards establishing trust and authentic communication between the participant and their Community Broker.
It’s not unusual for participants to perceive us as just another person providing conversations about empty promises. However, very quickly on in the process, the participants learn that “it’s all about their voice, their desires, their ideas.” It often takes a few encounters before they even get in true touch with expressing themselves, some for the first time ever. The care that goes into the conversations over coffee, across the kitchen tables, inside the vehicles while driving to and from a site are part of the crucial ingredients that go into establishing relationships.
Our pace, must align with their pace. Our thoughts must remain open to their perspectives. Our posture must be approachable to their comfort zones. Our attention and focus must be felt by them and about them.
Each encounter with each participant is unique and challenges us to make certain that we leave assumptions at the door. The value goes beyond the participant simply becoming comfortable, to the Community Broker being able to become effective during those crunch times of choppy waters. Tough love is easier felt when the foundation of trust and investment is apparent. Getting to know them also means that they get to know us as well. Our participants often transform us along the way as we work hard to keep the playing field of exchange on level ground between us.
Each Community Broker has different levels of comfort zones and boundaries that are unique to them but I venture to say that regardless of the Community Broker, each one of us understand the importance of laying a strong, relational foundation up front for the journey that lies ahead.
Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, September 2, 2014
The blog this week was written by Dedrenna Hoskins, mother of a participant in Community Brokering at The Arcadia Institute.
In the fall of 2012, Isaiah and I were introduced to a new set of words we had not heard together before, that I thought would be a great fit for Isaiah, and they were “community brokering”. Mrs. Helen Clary from Community Mental Health was performing her monthly visits when she recognized my frustration with the fact that Isaiah was not growing and she suggested a new program that she said had recently started and that may be good for Isaiah. Mrs. Clary mentioned the Arcadia Institute, which we had had a meeting with one its representative some months prior and there was little that they could do to help at that time. I immediately wanted to dismiss any further discussion at that time except “this would be such a good fit for Isaiah and his growth” kept running in my mind. To make a not so good beginning and long story short, I am very glad that I did not dismiss further discussion and eventually meeting with two new representatives one of which is family friend and has been for many years, Ms. Deborah Warfield, and the other is Jennifer Goodwill. Everything from that initial displacement on has been just the right fit.
On March 9, 2013, Isaiah had what we his close family call his “New Introduction Party.” That is where Mrs. Allison Hammond, Ms. Deborah Warfield and Mrs. Jennifer Goodwill (leaders within the Arcadia Institute) helped to facilitate along with Isaiah’s sister, Ms. Dalanna Hoskins, his father, Mr. Terrence Hoskins and I his mother helped Isaiah to introduce himself and his plans for his new beginning before family and friends who desire to be a part of this growth process.
There have been many dead ends, detours and speed bumps along the way but we could always count on Jennifer and Deborah to give us the encouragement we needed. Their encouragement allowed all who wanted to see Isaiah’s world around him begin to grow and to see his wings emerge and begin to fly.
There are many more roads to travel and we look optimistically to the future and the fullness of Isaiah to be expressed. We know that there is synergy where the whole (community) is greater than the sum of its parts individuals (within the community) and that every part (individual) is important and vital to the whole. All people desire to be considered as important and that is what we believe the community brokers do. To help the community at large one company, institution at a time to be fit with one or more of our special individuals and vice versa. We are all only as good as we can be if all of us are working together to allow everyone to fit into the fellowship of community.
Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, August 26, 2014
The blog this week was written by Dalanna Hoskins, a new Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.
When I was told that I was invited to a “forum” for my brother Isaiah Hoskins, I thought to myself, “Sure, but what is this forum about?” I was quickly corrected by my mother, Dedrenna Hoskins, that this was not a forum, but more of a plan for Isaiah’s future along with other close friends and relatives who care deeply for him. I was on board either way, anything to support my brother in whatever he needs. I was pleasantly surprised that this “plan” was more than just planning out Isaiah’s future, but it was a way to celebrate who he is as a person as well as how we as a community can come together to help birth forth his dreams, gifts, and callings.
For those of you who may not know, Isaiah Hoskins is my younger brother, and ever since I was aged five or so, I was told he was diagnosed with autism which made him “different” from myself and other children in our age group. When asked to be a part of his journey of coming up with a person centered plan through the Arcadia Institute, there was no hesitation of course. I remember the day that we all sat down and came up with a person centered plan for Isaiah and thought to myself “Man, why didn’t I get this in high school?, better yet why didn’t we do this sooner for Isaiah?” I was immediately excited, grateful, and ecstatic to have Jennifer Goodwill as his Community Broker and to find out Deborah Warfield, a life-long friend of the family was involved with this organization.
As an outcome of the positive results that I am seeing each day from Isaiah’s growth, I wanted to be involved on a deeper level. I am thrilled to announce that I am part of the Arcadia Institute team as a Community Broker. This is my way of giving back to an organization that has given my family so much growth and hope for the future. I hope that I can help other individuals like my brother, find their identity in their own communities and feel safe in the world around them.