Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spreading the Word

Welcome back everyone! With the shorter weeks for the holidays, I decided to take a break so I would have a little more to write about.  Quite a bit has happened since I last posted. Town hall meetings are taking place this week. Time sure is flying by! In the past two weeks, in addition to confirming the dates for the community meetings, I finalized the flyers, got assistance in translating them to Russian, and started flyering. With the help of the case workers and supervisors flyers have been going up all over town. Also, we decided to do a direct mailing campaign that includes the flyer and the survey in an attempt to get more people to come to the town hall meeting and to respond to the needs assessment survey.  The survey was also translated into Russian. I was able to directly mail about 200 survivors with a copy of the flyer in the appropriate language and included a copy of the survey as well with an addressed and stamped envelope. I have already received over 50 responses! In addition to the first wave of direct mailings, several hundred bilingual copies of the flyer were being stuffed into bills that went out last week. I am hoping that all of this work will lead to having a lot of feedback. The more feedback I have, the better job I can do in assessing the needs of the survivor community.  I am also thinking about doing a second mailing, possibly after the town hall meetings, with the survey and a letter explaining what I am doing and what information I’m hoping to collect. That way those that could not attend can make sure their voice is heard. All in all, about 660 flyers have been sent out through the mail and flyering campaigns.

So, this week we are holding four town hall meetings. Three of the town hall meetings will be in English, in a variety of locations, and at a variety of times, and one will be held in Russian for the Russian-speaking survivors. I am very proud of our effort to make sure to include the Russian speaking population as they can sometimes be overlooked. I hope that by translating all of our documents into Russian and having Russian-speaking representatives at the town hall, they will be able to come and express their concerns. Once I have collected all of the surveys I can begin to crunch the numbers and see what the common needs are. Additionally, my survey should help us identify those that would like me to meet with them one on one to discuss their needs, or those that would like additional follow up from either the resource center, or their current case worker.

Since I can never seem to do one thing at a time I have also started doing some research on best practices for working with survivors as additional support, or even differences in communication expectations may be needed based on the survivor’s experiences. My hope is to use this information to update the training materials we currently have for training volunteers, caseworkers, and possibly even elder care facilities that are not aware of the special needs for survivors. I have also received some great resources from a fellow VISTA I met at my national training in August that may lead to some new funding sources for new projects based on the needs assessment. I am very happy about all of the work I am getting done, and even more excited about the possibilities of where this first step may take me, as well as my organization.

Until next week… 

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