Getting Ahead Programs

Question on how to approach GA Module 8

This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Jack Murphy 4 years, 9 months ago.

  • Author
  • #630

    Irene Frechette

    Susan Cook in Trenton, N.J. is asking
    How did you approach module 8 in the Getting Ahead Workbook? We were looking ahead to try to make it more manageable. See comments from my partner below. He is very good with finding data, and he thinks that finding the information requested is overwhelming.

    I’m looking at the nine areas of community assessment and the enormous amount of sophisticated data we are asking people to gather. for example “per capita debt Is going down” or “minimum wage violations are going down”. You can spend hours doing Internet searches and find that the data is not available. Most of the Data that is available is only on a state or county level.moreover, the group will need to spend many
    hours on Web sites extracting data looking for trends and also
    visiting municipal and county offices, county supt. Of schools, the VNA etc. Perhaps we should narrow down the Indicators which are more likely to be found before they are given the assignment.

    We would appreciate and advice and/or guidance you can give us from your experiences.

  • #631

    Irene Frechette

    I am Diana Reeves, co-facilitator with Kathy J. in Attleboro, MA who has already clearly described the process we went through in working on Module 8. A few additional thoughts:
    We tried to assign a research category that dove-tailed an interest of the investigator eg. healthcare went to a person who had suffered a major medical crisis, housing went to a person who had finally accomplished renting an apartment in a much better place etc.

    As Kathy said, we paired our investigators with someone willing/knowledgable/ available to help them. Some investigators preferred to work alone.

    A major goal of this module, we soon realized, was having the investigators begin to build their social and bridging capital by moving out of their comfort zones to ask questions of folks they had never previously met.

    We suggested that each investigator research the questions as they would apply to the town in which he/she lived as not all came from the same place.

    It took almost two meetings for everyone to share their findings, and we invited mentors/helpers to come for that piece. A large classroom grid was created as research findings were shared.

    Our investigators learned that they were more capable than they first perceived, and that they had something valuable to contribute to the learning of the total group.
    Hope these ideas help!

  • #632

    Irene Frechette

    Kathy J from the Attleboro, MA District answered – GA proved to be a learning experience for not only the investigators but Diana, Irene and myself as well. We also struggled as to how to deal with this Module. We decided to break up the Community Assessment portion of Module 8, we assigned one investigator and a mentor or facilitator to each of the nine sections, giving each “team” one week to complete their assignment. As we had investigators from several towns in the class, they used the information for the town in which they lived. They used information which they found online, talked to local politicians, police, fire, bankers etc. We were also able to use information from the Boston Globe which, at the time we were researching the material, was running a series of articles on poverty. I hope this helps you make your way through this module. Kathy Jaaskelainen

  • #633

    Irene Frechette

    Tom Pelger offered the following advise – At week 10 of our 18 week class, investigators and mentors used the Planning Backwards exercise at the end of Module 5 to plan how they were going to investigate one of the aspects of our community from Module 8. We gave them 4 weeks before the investigators presented their conclusions. As you have observed, our mentors reported that the investigations were challenging, if you are seeking hard local data, even for well educated & connected middle / upper class people. In the end, many of the T / F assessments were judgment calls based on whatever they could find.
    In my view, finding the right / best answer isn’t the point. It is the process of looking at the environment in which they struggle through a critical objective lens that can be educational and empowering for the investigators. By engaging their mentors in the process, they had a chance to practice planning towards a future goal together. Relationships began to be formed. Also our mentors gained an appreciation for how our community makes it very hard for people without resources to get ahead. Some witnessed first hand the contempt in which poor are treated by people whose job it is to help (eg librarians).

  • #634

    Tom Pelger

    Jeanne Harper from Marinette WI also replied: We divided them up into two investigator teams, each chose two areas to investigate. We did not use mentors, but our home visitors did help each of the four teams. In fact, what Tom stated is accurate — this exercise developed into our first advocacy project — two investigators were treated so poorly by someone at one agency: they brought the experience back to group and they all shared how they had been poorly treated – humiliation feelings got discussed and they created a plan of action for advocacy for others to follow them into that agency. We got the director on the line and they requested an appointment to see him. They shared their experience and the lady at the front desk (who did not like being interrupted all the time) because of the work with numbers that she was doing) was happy to move from the reception desk to a room where she could complete her work with out interruptions. It was critical to the investigators that they NOT cause her to lose her job, but rather come to understand how she was responding to people who were embarrassed to even be coming for help. This truly created systemic change because the investigators FOUND their voice – all because of Module 8 exercises.

    I love the idea of the mentor joining the investigator on the investigation of local resources Great way to develop relationships and great opportunity for the mentor to experience the reality of those living in poverty.

  • #640

    Jack Murphy

    I’m going to cross post this reply, since it deals with both the metric question and the broader Community Level approach.
    The Systemic Change Task Force is working on adapting the Bridges Community of Practice model, which we are calling Neighborhoods of Hope. As Tom Pelger noted, Planning Backwards can lead to real out of the box thinking and that is what we are suggesting with our approach to metrics.
    If our ultimate outcome is poverty reduction in a community, why not start there and back into the programs needed to impact that outcome? Of course the obvious answer is that there are way too many other factors that come into play, so why take on such a difficult challenge as impacting poverty?
    Put yourself back in the shoes of our founder, Blessed Frederick. How hard would it be for a small group of college students to organize a network of volunteers that will extend charity and justice around the world? Do you think those six students had any clue that their idea would have the impact that it has in today’s Society? I can’t imagine they did. The most they had going for them was the confidence that the Holy Spirit was guiding their work. That should inspire us all.
    Where do you start to develop these measures? Two places:
    1. Baseline data for my town: On this site, you can find poverty and employment statistics, and a bunch of other numbers down to a zip code level. Use this information to establish baseline data and measure progress each year (The US Census Bureau updates the figures every September).
    2. Jobs: Perhaps the surest way to get and stay on a road of self-sufficiency is to get, and keep, a job that pays enough to support a family. That means a conference will need to augment their Getting Ahead work by making sure graduates get and stay employed in good jobs:
    • Determining the “self-sufficient” wage for their community (start with this web site then validate with Vincentian experiences)
    • Find employers willing to pay that wage (we have one company that sends a van into a poor area to get folks to their manufacturing plant)
    • Use Vincentians as “job coaches” for the first year or so to help neighbors stay employed
    Using this approach can take our Getting Ahead work to the next level. It may also help us enhance our home visits to empower every Vincentian to systemically changing their interaction with a neighbor in need and really explore the kinds of assistance-financial, spiritual, and life changing, that our charism inspires.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.