The blog this week was written by Jennifer Goodwill, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute. In Community Brokering, one of the tools we use in getting to know an individual and in preparing for a Future Planning Meeting or MAP is to talk with an individual about their weekly routine. This is a simple and non-intimidating way for us to learn more about a person’s interests, priorities, and community connections. We actually make a calendar and ask them to help us fill it in with their regularly occurring activities. The obvious benefit of doing this together is that it enables us to see clearly what days of the week and times of the day the individual is available to look at new activities or employment in the community. The less obvious reason for doing this is because it gives us greater insight into the individual’s personality. We learn more about their likes and dislikes. After completing the weekly routine for one person, we learned that he spent a great deal of time in the community walking around downtown. But, each day in the later afternoon, he sought out a small park where he could find quiet and be away from people. Learning this about his routine, led us into a deeper discussion about his need to have balance in his life between being social and around friends, and with having a quiet place where he could retreat and enjoy some solitude. This insight into his personality has been helpful over time as we have supported him in finding housing and volunteer opportunities in the community.
Discussing a person’s routine is also helpful in learning more about who the people are in an individual’s community circle. Sometimes when we are talking with an individual about who they would like to invite to be a part of their MAP, or who do they know that might be a reference for them on an employment application, the person struggles to think of names. As we look at their weekly routine, we are able to see different places where they are spending time and this can help us form thoughtful suggestions about who to ask to be a reference or invite to a MAP. One young man was preparing to graduate from school, and we were focusing on his future schedule and how he would spend his time now that his days were going to be open. As I asked about his current schedule and work studies he enjoyed doing in the community as a student, he talked about a retirement community where he went with other students every week to volunteer. This was something he liked doing, so I reached out to the volunteer coordinator at the retirement community to ask about opportunities for him to continue volunteering with them. It turns out she knew this individual very well and loved the idea of having him continue to work with them. His parents and I learned that he had developed relationships with both the staff and residents at this retirement community. Since then, these individuals have participated in his MAP and he volunteers with them every week. Talking about someone’s weekly routine has been a helpful tool in Community Brokering, as it opens the doors to deeper and more meaningful conversations about a person’s interests and future goals.