" A few outreach stories..."
By Melissa Novock, STARS Case Manager
Bronx Community Solutions has many roles in working with clients and one of the roles includes doing "outreach" work. Specifically, BCS conducts outreach which consists of working with individuals who are involved in prostitution. This blog is a report on my most recent outreach shift.
On Thursday, 7/22/10 night, into Friday, 7/23/10 morning, I went on an outreach shift, along, with a fellow BCS employee, and two officers from the 41st precinct. We met a total of four women that evening and our shift was a great example of the power of human connection. One common theme revealed itself that night, the idea that, even in the darkest places, we can see light. Three out of the four women have been working on the track for sometime, and not only did they recognize BCS but they decided to engage and reconnect with BCS. The interesting thing is that they actually had previous contact with BCS, via their court mandates and the following week after our outreach shift, a few of our clients voluntarily came into the BCS clinic.
Let me share just a part of their stories. One of our clients, (let's refer to her as "Diana") had a few prior cases. Through a brief interaction during outreach, one in which she felt we were there for her and available to "meet her where she was at", Diana stated "I will be in to see you." I left Diana with these words, "You can come back to BCS with an appointment or without an appointment, we are here to help." Diana definitely is a woman of her word. She VOLUNTARILY, on her own volition, came to the clinic Monday morning to follow up and we had a chance to meet. She requested court advocacy, as well as some basic support. We quickly established a rapport of respect that honored her strength and determination. She begins a new job this week and is currently in an outpatient program. And we agreed, everything begins with a single step. I am looking forward to keeping an eye on her case along with her progress. We are wishing her well on the start of her next chapter.
Another client, (let's call her "Lisa"), not only requested court advocacy, but she also appeared in our clinic the following week. Through our outreach shift we found out her next court date and a Resource Coordinator appeared in court as part of our court advocacy. We were able to advocate on behalf of Lisa and her warrant was stayed. And yes, BCS will be in court with Lisa on her next court date. Two days later, Lisa appeared in our clinic. She decided she needed to talk to someone and she remembered that we were there to help. We had an inspiring session and she is intent on completing her court mandate and building her independence which includes a safe, violent free future.
And finally, a former BCS client, (let's call her "Beth") recently completed a BCS mandate and she has a goal of getting into a substance abuse treatment program. On Thursday night she mentioned she would like to follow up and get into a program. She was very surprised to see us on the streets, and in being able to talk with us, she felt very supported. I stated "our doors are always open, and when you are ready, come in and let's get to work."
It is very telling that three out of four clients have had a previous relationship with BCS, but even more powerful, is the fact that they are choosing to voluntarily work with us. Outreach is crucial, because we are able to make a "connection", as brief as it may be. In other cases we are able to strengthen an already existing relationship. The result: meeting women where they are at and being able to meet their needs at that given time, an example of success, or should I say, three poignant examples of success.
Until next shift,