The BE THE CHANGE Program facilitates a person’s journey off the street by filling gaps, offering care coordination, transportation, advocacy, encouragement and support for those want to leave the street. The program works with, rather than duplicates existing services drawing on the network’s collective impact to make a difference.
Collective Impact has been defined as drawing together important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social problem [John Kania and Mark Kramer, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2011}, in this case the need and cost of homeless care.
The program draws together hospitals whose emergency rooms are frequented by the homeless, often for non-emergent, non-medical needs; homeless agencies that provide a wide range of services to the homeless; and businesses that frequently see the homeless as an annoyance or deterrent. Those that benefit financially share their savings with financial support. Non-profits that benefit from improved outcomes and efficiency provide specialized services, in-kind support and technical guidance which helps keep costs in check. It is a true collaboration with a common goal is to help the homeless off the street.
The BE THE CHANGE Program fills the gaps with an innovative, client oriented approach. Its outreach program centered on providing meals and transportation, on the street over 100 hours a week, builds rapport with homeless individuals, as well as an understanding of their story and challenes. The staff has also built knowledge of local agencies, their programs, requirements and capabilities that enables them to match individuals with services. Once in a program, the staff follows-up, providing support and encouragement throughout their journey off the street. The program works with individuals, providing advocacy and assistance in taking the next step. Frequently, that assistance involves identifying and accessing an agency providing the next service, but often it means providing lodging and care coordination for a few days or weeks until a bed is available.
But agencies are made up of individuals whose collective impact is seen in many ways. Last year, the Kansas City Chapter of the Emergency Nurses Association held a Walk for Woo. Over 80 people representing all the hospitals served turned out on a cloudy, cold fall morning to raise over $3,000 for the program. These are the same individuals that tirelessly serve the homeless night in, night out.
The result of this collective focus benefits the homeless, local homeless agencies, community emergency services and thus our community. In its first three years, the program helped emergency services avoid nearly $5,000,000 in hospital, ambulance, police and judicial fees and costs. That’s $6 for each $1 AHH spent. Saint Luke’s Plaza Hospital attributed much of an 80% decline in non-emergent homeless ED cases to the program. Over 100 chronic homeless and at risk young adults were helped off the street. The BE THE CHANGE Program lives out it motto: Helping the Homeless, Helping the Community.
Recognizing the sum is greater than its parts
Initial contact through communities, 2-1-1 Homeless Services Hotline
Partnering with City Union Mission, KCCC, KC Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, City Union Mission Family to provide shelter for over night visits.
Following through the next days to determine follow ups
Work with reStart, Synergy, ReDiscover, Benilde Hall, Comprehensive Mental Health, Gateway,Renaissance West for intermediate and long term strategies
Working with our communities for immediate and long term solutions
The phrase, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” was introduced by Christian von Ehrenfeis in the late 1800's within the Gestalt Theory of psychology, and was used to describe the concept of synergy.The essence of synergy is to value differences - to respect them, to build on strengths, and to compensate for weaknesses. The way to achieve synergy is through the creative process, which is terrifying, because you never know where the creative process will lead you. As we are in relationships with one another, there is a synergistic energy that is fueled and cultivated when we share life together.The terrifying aspect is the necessity of vulnerability.However, we learn and grow when there is a mutuality in relationship, and disclosure of our true selves.Only then is it possible to come together as a healthy community.
This concept of synergy has clearly been lived out through our ministry and the relationships and bonds which have been forged.It has been through our time with our homeless friends that we have truly understood the interconnectedness of our stories and lives.The beautiful idea of synergy reveals that no matter your gender, race, socio-economic status, we all have something to teach one another and to learn from one another.As individuals we are broken, yet as a community we are made whole.