Somewhere Under the Rainbows (by Guest Blogger Matthew Lewis)

Read more about the author here. This post is based on the community work and writing that the author has been doing in WR 122 at Portland Community College.  The piece of public writing is loosely based on a research question and research collection the author developed.  The public writing is a chance to use one’s writing to become part of the larger community dialogue about issues in the chosen theme.

An Introduction

My research question is: What are some things Family Service Organizations can do to encourage people who live in the same community with one another (neighborhood, etc.) to be motivated to serve and assist one another outside of working in any official capacity? I have gathered a collection of four outside sources (2 popular-periodical sources and 2 scholarly sources) to assist me in addressing this question. All four of these sources highlight either, a. The need for Family Service Organizations to equip and empower local people within a community to serve one another b. An example of this being done effectively or c. Both.

The Public Writing

MattBlogPicYou, reading these words right in front of your face, you live somewhere. Your somewhere might be a “nice, fancy” house; your somewhere might be a cheap apartment; your somewhere might be under a bridge. But wherever it might be, you exist and breathe somewhere. Your somewhere could be considered to be your “community.” So let me ask you a question- Would you consider yourself to be involved in the community of your somewhere? Would you say that you are contributing to the tangible well-being of the other people around you who live in close-quarters to your somewhere?

Now, whatever you are doing (or not doing) in your community, you are probably familiar with or at least of aware of some organizational entities which work in or near your community. Most of us are aware that there are a wide variety of Community and Family-Centered Public Service Organizations operating in “somewhere” all around the World. From Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Department of Human Services (DHS), to Goodwill Industries, to the Red Cross and United Way, to Doctors without Borders and the Peace Corps, there are a myriad of well-established organizations seeking to serve people and their communities. But is the helpful work being done by these and other Family-Centered Service Agencies sufficient to build vibrant, thriving communities?

I say no. I think many of the efforts being made on the part of many community orientated NPO’s and other family-service organizations are wonderful and are truly helpful, but in order to build the best “somewheres” possible, in order to build interconnected, neighbors helping and serving neighbors types of communities, it is not enough for outside agencies to come in and provide services and assistance. “Everyday” people who live in communities with one another need to be motivated and equipped to serve and assist one another.

The need for individuals who live within their communities to be empowered and equipped to serve their fellow community members is emphasized in the developing country of Malaysia right now. According to research done by Jawiah Dakir and his colleagues in Malaysia, many Malaysian communities are experiencing a shortage of well-trained counselors. One of the proposed solutions to this problem by Dakir and his colleagues is to equip “Imam,” religious leaders in the community, to be certified counselors. Malaysian officials have recognized the need for religious leaders, people living in direct contact with their communities, to be equipped to serve and assist their fellow community members.

As mentioned earlier, there are neat community projects being done to serve local communities by larger organizations and by collaborations of these organizations. For example, in Eastern Pennsylvania, an event put on by local creative artists to assist the work of “Meals on Wheels of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Avenues Foundation in Pottsville, the Employment Opportunity & Training Center in Scranton, Lourdesmont Youth and Family Services in Scranton and the Anti-Bullying Coalition of Luzerne County” (Denise Allabaugh, “Creative Minds Lend Help to Nonprofits”). But, as wonderful as events like “CreateAthon” are, 24 hours later, they are over. They can assist and be catalysts to community, but they are not enough to sustain a “somewhere” on a day in and day out basis.

No, a better example of this kind of collaborative work being done between a service organization and the communities it serves would be the veteran family transition work being done in Charlotte, North Carolina by Senator Hagan and Charlotte Bride Home (CBH). This work is based off the some of the same principles addressed by the research of Jane M. Everson, Joan D. Guillory, and Joy G. Ivester in their essay entitled “Community Development: Lessons Learned About Coalition Building and Community Connections for Stakeholders with Disabilities.” Both of these wonderful articles are accessible via the citations above. A brief overview is that Hagan and her team in North Carolina are working vigorously to plant and help sustain military families into good communities.

All of this is to say, that even though there are some great organizations doing some great work, this work needs to be aimed at empowering individual community members to care for and take ownership of their community. So, now, let me ask you, my reader: If you are a family-service volunteer or employee, does your organization encourage and help to equip individual members of local communities to serve their communities? And, if you are a person who can recognize where your community, your somewhere is, are you serving the community around you? Wherever it is, is your somewhere a better place because you are there?

Author’s Note: My most significant learning through this process of writing and researching has been the discovery that I do not serve my community where I live nearly as well as I would like to.

The Research Collection

Periodical Sources

  1. Citation: Allabaugh, Denise. “Creative Minds Lend Help to Nonprofits.” Citizens’ Voice, The (Wilkes-Barre, PA) 13 Oct. 2012: Newspaper Source. Web. 4 Mar. 2013.

Brief Summary: Creative experts generated free creative logos for and gave free creative materials to local non-profit organizations in eastern Pennsylvania as part of a 24hour project to help the local community service NPO’s. $500,000 in free services was extended from creative professionals to local communities in Eastern Pennsylvania through what is labeled a CreateAthon. The event took place from 10a.m. on Thursday, October 11th until 10a.m. on Friday, October 12th.

Why this is an Authoritative Source: This newspaper article came out of a publication called “The Citizen’s Voice,” which is an acceptable periodical source for this project. This article was also written within the last six months, so it is current enough to be valid as well.

How this article fits into my Research journey: My research question has to do with how family service organizations can best partner with people in the community. This article highlights a great example of family service NPO’s working with local creative talent to aid local communities.

  1. Citation: “Hagan Visits Charlotte Bridge Home to Discuss Veterans’ Transition to Civilian Life.” States News Service 10 Jan. 2013.Academic OneFile. Web. 6 Mar. 2013.

Brief Summary: A senator by the name of Kay R. Hagen and some local people living in various communities throughout North Carolina have been working with a local Non-Profit called Charlotte Bride Home (CBH) in order to find the best fit for military veterans and their families who are returning from overseas deployment.

Why this is an Authoritative Source: This is a newspaper article which was published within the last two months by a well-known syndication.

How this article fits into my Research journey: This article provides a shining example of people not working directly for or in affiliation with a family service organization being involved in community work (planting veterans and their families in good, fitting neighborhoods).

 

Scholarly Sources:

  1. Citation:  Dakir, Jawiah, et al. “The Family Counseling Services Scenario of the Islamic Religious Department in Malaysia: Towards Enhancement of Services.” Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences (2012): 440+. Academic OneFile. Web. 4 Mar. 2013.

Brief Summary: This is a research article on the current counseling service situation in Malaysia. The findings indicate that while the counseling service is doing fairly well, there are still some helpful adjustments which could be implemented in order for the services to better serve the country and its family communities. One significant finding is that if Imam (religious leaders within the Muslim community) were equipped with counseling expertise, they would be a greater asset and help to the people they serve and oversee.

Why this is an Authoritative Source: This is an extensive research article from a scholarly source on my topic which includes a lengthy list of verified sources within it.

How this article fits into my Research journey: This article highlights the need for local people within the community (the Imam) to be equipped by family service organizations with the skills to serve the communities they live in.

  1. Citation: Everson, Jane M., Joan D. Guillory, and Joy G. Ivester. “Community Development: Lessons Learned About Coalition Building and Community Connections for Stakeholders with Disabilities.” Community Development: Journal of the Community Development Society 37.3 (2006): 83+. Academic OneFile. Web. 6 Mar. 2013.

Brief Summary:

According to Everson, Guillory and Ivester,

…this paper presents case studies that summarize the results of the four participating coalitions, including coalition-specific milestones and opportunities for participation and contributions by stakeholders with disabilities. Valuable lessons learned about coalition-building and community connections for stakeholders with disabilities are presented. Finally, project findings, which offer contributions to existing research, accumulated knowledge, and recommended practices, are discussed (83).

Why this is an Authoritative Source: It comes from a scholarly source on community development and is very well researched.

How this article fits into my Research journey: This writing not only hits on how communities can be built up through coalition work, but it also emphasizes the needs of the disabled, which my first essays this term accentuated as well.

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2 comments

  1. Gabriel Gils Carbó

    I love the way you open up the Public Writing. It’s in your face, and gets your attention. But I think maybe it stays too agressive in the second paragraph, I then start to feel that your writing is attacking me personally and as a reader I might be motivated to stop reading then.

    Your research question is very long and some of your may get lost in it. If there was a way of tighten it up and make it punchier, it would engage your readers more easily.

    Lastly I like all of the examples that you’re giving us. If there were some examples where communities are being empowered to help themselves it would be great to list one or two.

  2. Gabriel Gils Carbó

    On second paragraph line 1, it should say “some of your readers”.

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