Discovering Community

The blog this week was written by Allison Hammond, Program Director at The Arcadia Institute. In the Community Broker Process, one of the most important steps is helping the person discover who is in their community outside of family and special services staff. Often people have not really been asked to name the people in their community. Listing family, close family friends and service/school staff comes easy, but who else does the person know that would be a valuable part of the Community Broker Process. Often during other encounters with the person we discover more connections. Maybe it is someone from a store the person goes to frequently, perhaps it’s a staff person from a place where the person volunteers, perhaps it is another church members.

The person and families often worry about “bothering” people and don’t think that people will come to a meeting. The Community Broker manages this by being responsible for sending out the invitations to the MAP or PATH meeting and coordinating RSVP’s. Most of the time even if people cannot attend because of a scheduling conflict, they respond positively to being invited. On occasions invitees even have provided written input about the person’s gifts and where they could be shared in the community. These comments are often valuable during the MAP or PATH meeting.

Receiving input from the person’s community beyond the usual family and special services staff is what often distinguishes Community Brokering from mental health person centered plans or school individual education plans. The persons community can help open doors and create paths to possibilities that have not been noticed before.

Below is a MAP of a persons Community.