Monthly Archive for: ‘July, 2018’
In Central Connecticut, Community Health Resources (CHR) whose name embodies their commitment to community-based care, as well as instilling hope for a healthy, happy and productive future, and utilization of all available resources to achieve change. CHR has committed to practice these core values when, in November of 2017, they took on the challenge to fill the need as Central Connecticut’s Shelter Diversion Center provider.
According to Connecticut’s Department of Housing and Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, Connecticut Shelter Diversion can be described as: a strategy that prevents homelessness at the front door of the homelessness response system by helping people identify immediate alternative housing arrangements and, if necessary, connecting them with services and financial assistance to help them return to permanent housing.
Shelter Diversion is a strategy that takes a tremendous amount of active listening, strengths exploration and motivation from both the client and the diversion specialist. CHR’s Diversion Center is currently staffed by one full-time diversion specialist who covers Bristol, Plainville, New Britain, Southington and Berlin as a catchment area. CHR’s Diana Berube is known in the community as “Diversion Superwoman”. She has been quoted as being ambitious, kindhearted and empathetic. Clients who have attended a Central Coordinated Access Network (CAN) appointment, leave with better clarity on how they will move forward out of their current situation. It is known that Diana creates an environment that exudes compassion. This is beneficial when a client’s defenses are high, they are out of options and seeking assistance. Therefore, when Diana is asked what she loves most about being “Diversion Superwoman”, she humbly states, “being able to break down the defenses of individuals to trust me enough to assist them in their time of desperation.”
Being an outreach worker for the City of Bristol, prior to her role with CHR, Diana received first-hand experiences on the hardships that would force someone into homelessness or housing instability. That is why she has dedicated herself to not be “just another resource” but hope and encouragement for those who come to see her seeking assistance. Because of this, Diana will tell anyone, that one of her biggest challenges with her role is not always being able to assist the client immediately or if at all. She credits her supervisor, Angela Easterling, for providing tremendous support and an ear or shoulder when she is presented with clients that trigger emotions because of their circumstances. Diana also credits CHR’s Rapid Rehousing Case manager, Rosa DeJesus, for her linkage to effective communication and is grateful for times she steps away from her own caseload to assist with translating when needed.
Diana will be the first to say that being the only Diversion Specialist is not an easy task, but the support she receives from CHR makes it all worthwhile. It is clear that CHR upholds their mission, which is to help adults, children, and families find Real Hope for the challenges of Real Life.
Journey Home has come a long way over the last seven years witnessing growth in employees, revenue and volunteer engagement. Through this period of change, we have relied on the amazing skills of our contracted accountant, Dottie Stone. This spring Dottie made the difficult decision to leave Journey Home in order to enjoy retirement. Dottie was critical to ensuring that Journey Home was able to support the growth of our agency from a finance perspective. She worked with our Executive Director, Deputy Director and Board Treasurer to implement a financial management system that would allow us to diversify our revenue streams and to serve as a fiduciary and subcontract funding allowing gaps to be filled in the homeless service system. For all her years of dedication to Journey Home, and her heartfelt commitment to the mission of ending homelessness, Journey Home sends our deepest appreciation to Dottie.
During this transition we have welcomed a new staff member to the Journey Home team to continue on the great progress we have made thus far. At the beginning of April, Brian Mullen joined Journey Home as the part-time Accounting and Finance Officer. Brian holds a BS in Economics from Southern CT State University. He began his career in commercial banking but transition over to the non-profit field in 2001. Outside of work, Brian is a pet lover (he has a dog and two cats), enjoys bowling on a league he has been on since childhood and does fundraising work for Our Companions, a CT based animal rescue. We are thrilled to welcome Brian to the Journey Home team!
In April, Parkville Community Association contacted Journey Home about attending one of their monthly meetings to discuss homelessness as well as to address some concerns about homelessness in their community. Parkville is a neighborhood on the west side of Hartford that stretches from the center of Park Street all the way to Capitol Avenue and Prospect Avenue. The Parkville Community Association is managed by their President, David Morin, and consists of various providers in the Parkville area as well as Community Service officers, volunteers and residents. At these meetings they discuss various topics including housing development, construction and waste management. They also discuss any issues in the neighborhood related to safety.
On April 18th, Kelly Gonzalez, Outreach Coordinator for Journey Home attended the Parkville Community Association meeting. She brought materials with her and educated the group on homelessness and the proper steps to help a client get connected to homeless services in the community. The group was very excited to hear about services available to this population and provided Kelly with locations where clients are known to be unsheltered. The Outreach Coordinator assured them that it would be brought back to the outreach team and that they would do their best to connect with clients found in the locations provided.
On May 9th, the outreach team agreed to cancel the outreach meeting and instead make it an outreach field trip. She split the 14 unsheltered locations provided by the Parkville community in two groups and both teams headed out to search for the unsheltered clients in these areas. Community Health Resources, Hands on Hartford, ImmaCare, House of Bread and Friendship Service Center worked cohesively and safely to canvass the grounds provided. Group A covered the residential areas and looked for evidence of homelessness behind churches, businesses and playscapes. Group B covered the industrial areas and searched for campsites behind parks, construction sites and near railroad tracks.
Once the groups finished checking all the areas assigned to them they reconvened at Hands on Hartford to discuss their findings. Group A found tents behind the Fast Track Station and Group B found a campsite behind Pope Park. Unfortunately, the people residing in these areas were not present at the time. Both teams left outreach cards, toiletries and lunches in these areas with hopes that they will reach out and know that there is a team in the community who can assist them.
Moving forward, both areas will continuously get checked for unsheltered people with the hope that they will engage and accept homeless services. The alliance amongst the homeless providers and Parkville Community Association was a great one that proved we have a shared goal to make a social change. Ending homelessness is a community effort and the collaboration amongst the various agencies proved that working together is the only way we can create breakthroughs. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, said it best, “when we need to innovate, you need collaboration.”
Journey Home would like to thank all of our funders and donors for making these kinds of partnerships possible.
Hot appetizers on the table, cold drinks in hand, and conversations flowing from one person to the next. What a wonderful night at Republic at the Linden in Hartford for our Volunteer Appreciation Happy Hour. We are so thankful to have been able to spend quality time with a group of some of our most dedicated volunteers. It is always a joy to get together to help those in need, but we recognize the importance of coming together as a community as well and enjoying some time to relax and recuperate together without any heavy lifting involved.
We have volunteers in all aspects of our program, from those that are doing the heavy lifting during the week, those that come on the weekends, the ones that connect us to donors with great pieces for the clients, and those that help in sorting and organizing household items. Each and every volunteer makes this program run and makes it possible for our clients to feel comfortable in their new homes. This program has truly created a family that is helping our neighbors in the Greater Hartford area finally feel at home.
Making a House a Home is a program that is not only bringing together furniture and household goods but is bringing together people in the community to make a difference and make a connection for other people in the community that have simply fallen on hard times and need some help to get back on their feet. This is a program that happens for our neighbors, just as it would happen between friends and family. When someone you know needs some assistance you step up to help; a sister, a cousin, an old friend from high school. Those experiencing homelessness are no different. They are someone’s sister, cousin, and friend from high school. It is our duty to help and give them a hand when they are down, so they can do the same for someone else during their time of need.Thank you to our volunteers for lending that hand, and being there to create this community of givers, creating a family that people can go to for support. You are some of the most selfless people in our community today, and we thank you and appreciate you so much for all that you have done and continue to do today.
Over the past few years, Journey Home, alongside dozens of local partners, has been making a huge impact on ending homelessness. Most days, we spend our time analyzing data, facilitating workgroups, engaging volunteers, and moving furniture into new homes. In early March, though, the Journey Home team took to the Capitol for the annual Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Days with the Reaching Home campaign, organized by the Partnership for Strong Communities, and the CT Coalition to End Homelessness.
Advocacy Days are a two-day stretch, usually in early spring, where providers of homeless services and housing programs across the state of Connecticut join together. In the legislative office building, each of the different Coordinated Access Networks across the state presented data highlighting the work we have done to end veteran homelessness, the work we are doing to end chronic homelessness, and the goals we have to end family and youth homelessness by 2020. Legislators and legislative aides gathered to hear stories from clients who have been positively impacted by housing and shelter programs. Here are some of the highlights we shared with our local elected representatives:
- CT was recognized in 2016 by the federal government as one of the first two states in the nation to end homelessness among Veterans.
- From January 2015 to December 2017, CT providers housed 1,948 people experiencing chronic homelessness, bringing CT within reach of our goal of ending chronic homelessness.
- Since January 2014, there has been a 62% decrease in individuals experiencing chronic homelessness (long-term homelessness with a severe disability). In September 2017, there were 197 adults experiencing chronic homelessness in CT — the lowest number to date.
Connecticut has been leading change in ending homelessness over the last few years. State legislators are seeing that housing reduces use of emergency rooms for medical care, saves money across systems, and allows constituents to become active members of their communities. These advocacy days give us the chance to show legislators the progress we are making each year, and to make the case for maintaining essential, life-saving support programs. Across the state of CT, through our advocacy days we were able to reach 125 state legislators with our message of progress, and we shared the ambitious goals we have for ending homelessness in the years to come.