This program was designed by the Community Caring Collaborative and partners as a response to community needs identified at the 2015 CCC Visioning Day. Phase one, hiring a program coordinator, was complete in July of 2020. More recently, the community action team planning this program has engaged in a successful branding strategy process resulting in a permanent name for the program, a mission statement, and a value proposition: Introducing “The Connection Initiative” whose mission statement is “to make lives better through connecting our neighbors in Washington County to community resources with a personal touch,” and whose value proposition is “Responding to Washington County neighbors’ needs with care, connections, and options.”
A website wholly dedicated to the Connection Initiative is being constructed on the Zendesk platform that will enable the connections envisioned by the planners to occur in multiple media formats, including phone (voice & text), email and Facebook Messenger, bringing a high level of access for community members. When complete, this page will redirect viewers to the new website.
Following is a basic outline of how the Connection Initiative will function:
The Connection Initiative serves a specific role of expanding the capacity of programs by developing helping relationships with community members. They can engage in ways that increase mastery and allow people to achieve their personal goals or address an issue that historically has been a barrier.
The Connection Initiative recruits volunteers with a wide range of interests and capabilities that they wish to share with others, and match them with community members. The length and scope of their commitment will be established in an agreement signed by the volunteer and the community member requesting the service.
All volunteers receive basic Mentoring Training (12 Hours) which includes: mandated reporting, confidentiality, strength-based interactions, impact of poverty, impact of trauma, and crisis intervention. Additional training will be offered to increase expertise and provide support to the mentor/friends as needed or requested.
The Connection Initiative is designed to engage with community members on 3 tiers:
- Tier 1: This is the most general level of the program, designed to respond to community members calling for help with basic resources, essential home help/shopping for groceries, filling out forms, etc. Callers are directed to appropriate resources or volunteers who can provide the warm referral or help with advocacy and home activities.
- Tier 2: This level provides a deeper and more specific level of relationship with community members who are undergoing life-changing circumstances, like the death of a spouse, and call for help navigating through the process. Callers are matched with volunteers who can support them through the circumstance. Tier 2 is also designed for people with an interest in developing a new skill/hobby, who are matched with a volunteer possessing those skills & experience to get them started and provide guidance.
- Tier 3: This is the most structured, formal level of relationship with volunteers, and is designed for people desiring professional/educational development in a more classic mentor/mentee structure.
The Connection Initiative Coordinator is the heart of this program, receiving all requests for help from community members on each tier, and recruiting, managing and matching volunteers with Initiative participants. Although the program is still under development and not yet open, people can contact Dante Zanoni, LSW, the CCC Resource & Volunteer Coordinator who is overseeing the Connection Initiative, with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-263-4997.