Helping People Discover Themselves

We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.Galileo Galilei

One of the things that we love about Community Brokering is that we use the word “Help” in a very specific way. In our work, “Help” means connecting people to the community so that they can discover their interests and strengths. It means supporting them to participate in the community by either coaching them or the people around them to learn how to support them. Help does not mean doing for and doing to a person.

In the Community Broker Process there are several steps that we take to help people discover themselves and how to share their gifts in the community.

* Telling their story

In this step, the person and other people in their life have an opportunity to share instances when the person was able to show their gifts and strengths. Maybe they have a story about working with children or animals. Perhaps they can talk about a time when they showed real empathy towards another person. Maybe their story is about their ability to do art or music.

* Exploring new places and activities

We take people to try new activities. Maybe going to a Zumba class at the YMCA, or spending time with a veterinarian, or attending a class at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. While doing these new things, people meet other people in the community and begin to form new relationships. They are able to show other people that they can participate, with appropriate support, in the community.

* Listing their strengths during a PATH or MAP meeting

Sometimes during a PATH or MAP meeting when we have the group list strengths and talents not only does the person hear about strengths they have, but also, the rest of the group learns more about the person and the possibilities for the future.

* Opportunities to learn from mistakes

Yes in the Community Broker Process there is room for people to make mistakes and learn from them. For example, a person may think they really would like to take a dance class and then discovers that they do not enjoy it at all. Or perhaps a person who is learning to schedule their own transportation, forgets to be outside ready for the bus to go to a volunteer position. Once they have experienced disappointing not only themselves, but other in the community – they discover that they can learn from that mistake and do better the next time.

If you would like more information about Community Brokering you can contact Allison Hammond at ahammond@thearcadiainstitute.org or 269-254-8224.