Embracing Possibilities through Community Brokering

Currently, The Community Broker Process through The Arcadia Institute is only available for people with developmental disabilities that are receiving at a minimum Supports Coordination through Kalamazoo Community Health and Substance Abuse Services. In the next several Blogs we are going to share how the process works. If you would like more information please contact Allison Hammond, Program Director at ahammond@thearcadiainstitute.org or 269-254-8224. Community Brokering is a process that The Arcadia Institute is practicing with people who have disabilities; however, it can be used in many situations. If a person is experiencing any life transition, a crisis that needs some support to navigate community resources or just to create a plan for one’s future. In our work, we find that, for the Community Broker Process to really work, the person with disabilities, family members, friends, teachers and others in their community need to be open to new opportunities. The person needs to be ready to embrace possibilities that may not have been considered before and willing to try new things. In addition, those closest to them in the community need to be supportive and respectful of new choices the individual may make in regard to living arrangements, community activity and employment.

Through the Community Broker Process, the ideas, thoughts and dreams of the person with disabilities are the focal point. Some people who have never really had a voice learn to communicate their own ideas about their futures. For those who have had little choice, they need an opportunity to explore various options in the community.

Here are some questions that we explore in the Community Broker Process:

• Does the person want to explore many possibilities for the future? • Does the person want to live independently as possible in an apartment or house? • Does the person want to fully participate in the community with people without disabilities? • Does the person want to grow a community network with the goal of competitive employment? • Does the person feel ready to commit to trying and learning new things in the community?

We find that when a person and the community says "yes" to some or all of these questions and is ready to embrace possibilities, the results can be impressive. When we focus on how people with disabilities can share their gifts in the community, everyone’s life is enriched. Consider the story of Ron and his housing situation in the last blog. We have a young man learning to ride the bus.  While he is enjoying his new independence, his parents are facing their fears of wanting to shelter and protect him. It's not easy, but they respect his dream and are supportive of him.. There is a young man who now has a job just by the nature of his expanding community circle.

In the next series of blogs we are going to describe the components of Community Brokering. Next week will be about the “getting to know the person” phase that is essential to making the process come alive.

Please share your comments or questions. We are really curious about who is reading our blog.