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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bronx Community Solutions Creates Resource Manual for Spanish Speaking Clients

By Anjelica Raygoza, Mental Health Case Manager

Soon after my arrival to Bronx Community Solutions I participated in conversations with other staff members regarding the particular needs of the Spanish-speaking clients that we service. In particular, Moises Reyes and Ramon Semorile, Coordinator of Community Service and Crew Supervisor, respectively, were consistently gathering information from clients about the services that are of predominant importance to them. The dialogues that took place between clients and staff during the intake process, in the field during community service and in Spanish-language social service classes were the spring board for the creation of the Spanish-language resource directory.

The idea was to produce a directory for in-house use that was meticulously tailored to the needs of our Spanish-speaking and indigent population. That is, the attempt was to intentionally divert from developing a “one-size fits all” directory. Most importantly, it was written in the Spanish-language to facilitate the clients’ access to it. It was created to include services that accommodated for economic status, language barriers, immigration status, demographic locations and other pertinent factors that increase the probability that clients will seek out the services that support a higher quality of life. 

Titled Recursos Para Personas Que Hablan EspaƱol, Documentados y Indocumentados (Resources for Spanish-Speaking Individuals, Documented and Undocumented), the directory includes services in the domains of medical care, mental health services, drug treatment, legal help with immigration, job training/education classes, amongst others; details of the service agency such as location and payment options are included. Additionally, it includes detailed information regarding their rights to public/community services, accessing their criminal record and sealing cases. This was added in an effort to empower clients to take more control of factors that affect their daily lives by providing them with information that is often obscure and incorrect when received “in the streets.”

While it may take more than a Spanish-language resource directory to encourage clients to access services, a parsimoniously written manual, free of fluff and complicating details, is a concrete tool that clients can have in their path to creating lives that are healthy and fruitful. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Crew Supervisor Inspires Clients In New Role

"I am a facilitator, not a teacher, so we are going to have a conversation and share our experiences."  Those are the words of Matthew Usher, Crew Supervisor as he opens the Bronx Community Solutions Decision Making class.

Matt began as a "facilitor" for one of our social service classes in December, and has flourished in this new role.  The Decision Making class is designed to assist individuals in making more rational and wise decisions by encouraging clients to take personal responsibility for their actions.  The goal is for participants to learn to recognize the choices they have when making decisions.  Through this process, with the aid of healthy decision-making skills and a clearer understanding of the consequences of their actions, participants learn to plan for their future. 

Through a combination of humor, story telling, inspirational quotes, fact checking, and a focus on the future, he engages 15 -25 clients per week.  At the end of a session, clients thanked him for asking good questions and helping them to think about things they have avoided thinking about.

Matthew has been an employee with the Center for Court Innovation for four years, working in Queens at a community clean-up site and at Bronx Community Solutions.  Matthew brings to each experience a love of people, and an appreciation for different viewpoints.  Matthew also states that "I learn as much from the students in the class as they learn from me"

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Community Service at World Vision: Helping Change the Lives of Children and The Adults who Serve Them

“I don’t want to be here.” “Fifteen days in jail would have been better” These were the words of some of the seven Bronx Community Solutions community service “crew” members when they reported to World Vision to fulfill their community service mandate.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. 

During the orientation, World Vision explained their mission, and the work they are doing for children as close to home as this Bronx neighborhood, and as far across the world as Africa.

After the orientation, the community service crew members assembled 66 boxes for  Bronx children to give to their mom’s for Mother’s Day.  The boxes included shampoo, soap and other beauty items. 

At the end of the day, the comments from the crew changed.  Instead of being disgruntled or resentful they stated: “I did something good here today.”