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Personal Engagement Project

In: Business and Management

Submitted By jillisal
Words 2107
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My personal engagement project consisted of me working with the homeless community. I was a case manager at a family shelter in framingham, and we had a woman named Laurie Laba sponsor the shelter. I later began to help assist Laurie in her community work with the homeless. Laurie and I are both very civically engaged with the homeless community in many ways. Laurie’s husband, Neale, is a music producer. Her produces folk music and they hold concerts at their house in Sudbury, Ma. Typically three or two months prior to the concert Laurie and I type up a detailed flyer regarding information about the concert. On the left side of the flyer is a section that is named homeless community. Underneath that section we give a brief description about the family shelter is framingham and list what the needs are for the house. We don't just come up with a random list of what we think the shelter might need. Prior to making the flyer we call or sometimes show up in person and speak with the program supervisor about what are the most important things that the families living in the shelter and the shelter itself is in need for. Depending on the season, we would typically be told that the shelter is in need of winter, or summer clothes. We would get a lot of toiletries request, such as paper towels, toilet papers, and cleaning supplies. The children living in the shelter vary from newborn to 17 years old, so we often like to get a list of the children's sizes, and favorite colors, so we could come up with good donations for the children as well. Many of the children their don’t have most things that other children would, so we want to make sure the children are happy and feel like they aren't missing out on anything because they live in a shelter. Some of the things that the staff recommends would be good to receive as donations are pots and pans, along with goods to stock in their food pantry room. At the shelter there is a room filled with dried goods, such as pastas, sauces, peanut butter, jellies, condiments, rice, soups, cereals, baby foods, formula, coffee, sugar, powdered mashed potatoes, baking condiments, etc. All of these goods are stored in the food pantry because there are times when families often use up all of their food stamps and cannot afford to go and buy food, and also its good to have the food pantry because people just simply run out of items that they may need to make a certain dish with , and the shelter is able to provide it for them. Once we’ve gathered all the information that the shelter is in need for, and make a list and add it into the concert flyer and simply say ‘these are some of the necessities that the family shelter in framingham is in need for. When attending the concert it would be very much thoughtful if you could bring some of these needs to donate to the shelter.’ This flyer gets emailed and mailed to everybody that was purchased a concert ticket. Normally theres between 40-60 people who purchase tickets for concerts being held at the house. On the night of the concert people always show up with multiple items off the list to donate to the shelter. They hand them to us as they walk in and Laurie and I have a huge donation box set up and we place the items in the box and thank the people for their kind donation. Once the concert has finished, the following days Laurie and I are left with a huge box filled with donations. This is the fun part because we get to organize all of the donation and categorize all of it in food sections, toys, clothing by sizes and sex, and the toiletries. This normal takes us about two days to sort everything out. Then we make about two trips to the shelter and the staff comes out and helps us bring everything inside the main office. Every time we go there and the families and children see us they get very happy because they know that we are coming with necessities for them. We don’t hand it out to the residence, we leave that up to the staff. Before we leave we kindly encourage the staff to keep us in mind if there is anything at any point that they are seriously in need for to always give us a call. Gathering and contributing donations for the family shelter is one part of how I engage with the homeless community. The other part that Laurie and I do is basically gather information of any form that will help benefit the families of the shelter in a positive way. When Laurie and I are out in the community and for example we are at Bed Bath and Beyond and we come across a really good deal on bathroom towels. We’ll call the shelter, and let them know that theres a good deal for bathroom towels, are they in need of any right now. If they say yes, then we’ll buy a good amount for the shelter, using a tax exempt form of coarse. We typically are always on the looking for the food pantry’s and clothes donation centers in the area. By making phone calls we were able to find a clothes donation center in Framingham that the shelter was not aware existed. The way this particular donation center works is, you have to call two days before going to let them know the number of people in the household, and their sizes. The people at the donation center will pack up a couple boxes of items the family is in need for and the family can go pick it up but will need to bring with them a shelter letter that states they are currently residing in shelter. We were also able to locate two food pantry’s that the families in the shelter can go to with providing a shelter letter as well. One of the pantries was located in Framingham, and the other was Natick. The framingham pantry gathers bags daily with whatever items they decide to give away and on Wednesday nights they serve dinner for the homeless community. This pantry also helps the children who are homeless during the summer by providing lunches for them Monday through Friday. This was a great reference for the shelter because it was within walking distant from the shelter. The other pantry we found in Natick, is one that has to be scheduled days in advance and you go there and they have a huge variety of foods. They have everything from frozen foods, to fresh vegetables, and warm prepared sandwiches. This food pantry in Natick looked like a tiny supermarket, it was very impressive and useful for the families in the shelter. The last and most recent resource that we came across for the homeless community is a center in Framingham that helps people with creating and updating resumes. Theres a tiny area within that center whee you can go and do some work search, and there is somebody there to assist you and help you with filling out job applications. When Laurie and i came across this resource were so excited to inform the staff about it because the main barrier to homeless is the lack of money and work. So we figured this would be a great way to help and motive the families to want to go out there, work and take another step forward into getting out of homelessness. Throughout the semester while doing my weekly readings in the Better Together book I was able to in some way relate my personal engagement project to the topic of the chapters. My personal engagement project involves a lot of engagement into the homeless community and the Framingham community itself. Since I am helping the homeless community, I am also reaching out to places around the framingham community to see what resources they offer that can help better the families lives whom are residing in shelter. While reading the Better Together book and engaging in the group discussion some of the topics throughout the book that related to my personal engagement project was bridging gaps between two communities. It is such a diverse community when living in a family shelter because families are being placed from all over Massachusetts from different races, beliefs, cultures, etc. While working with Laurie I was able to see the difference between families of different cultures, the way they communicate with each other, and the way they dress. The fact that they all share one major factor in common, being homeless; this is a community that they need to remember that even thought they’re all different cultures, they’re still apart of the same homeless community. Another topic that I felt related to my personal engagement project I came across while reading the Better Together book was on ideas to creating a sustainable community. As i previously mentioned, that while I am out in the community I always keep an open eye out for any services I see that can help strengthen this community. While working with Laurie we were able to find food pantry’s, and donor centers that provide clothing and food for homeless families. By helping to gather necessities that the family shelter in Framingham can benefit from and looking around for any services that can help the families within that community relates to this topic in the Better Together book. I have always been involved with different communities, such as the elderly, and homeless. While taking this course it really opened my eyes and made me think back to all the things I have done that I probably wouldn’t have considered civically engaging into the community. One thing I learned out of this course that I had never heard throughout my entire human service career is lobbying. I had never heard that word, and on one of the assignments we were giving we had to read about it and I feel like that one words means to much in this field. During the beginning of this course we were given quizzes to take and it gave us information about ourselves, and I really enjoyed taking those quizzes because it was fun and its always very interesting to learn new things about yourself, that you didn't even know. My academic interests is to complete my education towards obtaining my bachelors degree. I should be finished by the fall of 2017 if I continue to go full time. I am currently studying for the License Social Work test because one of my goals is to become a licensed social worker. I am aiming to take this exam as soon as i get my bachelors degree. I do plan on going back to school for my masters degree in Human Services; I am not sure if I will go straight after i get my bachelors degree or wait a year, but once thing for sure is that I will get it. I just recently got employed at the Department of Developmental Disabilities, I applied to this job about two years ago, and every two week I kept checking in to let them know i was still interested in this job. I finally got the opportunity to interview and I got the job! This is by far the most exciting thing for me so far this year thats happened. The community I have always wanted to work for was the disabled elders, and I have finally conquered this goal. Working with this community I feel like a person needs to have a good heart, and the patience. My plan is to stay working at the DDS, and once I get my bachelors degree slowly work my way up to a service coordinator position (which is kind of like being a case manger for the individuals getting services from the DDS), and then after I get my master degree my plan is to apply for a position as a Residential Service Director. I like to keep my dreams big, and work towards them, as the years go on I continue to check off my goals I have conquered. Taking this class was such a great experience and I would highly recommend it to future students! You were very organized, and graded in a professional timely manner! Thank you very much for all of the knowledge I have acquired form this course!…...

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