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Day of Caring Resource Exchange

Hitting the Ground Running at United Way’s Day of Caring Resource Exchange

By Lisa Andersen, one of our new AmeriCorps members, working to connect vulnerable families to food and health resources.

As a new AmeriCorps member at WithinReach, a big part of our work is connecting members of the King and Snohomish County communities to the health and food resources they need, and making sure they know how and where to access those resources when they need them. Those resources can range from food banks to medical clinics, and from dental services to cell phones. I learned quickly when I started at WithinReach this September that one of the challenges of my AmeriCorps service will be learning to navigate the huge variety of resources available, and learning to inform the people we serve about those resources in a clear and manageable way.
As you can imagine, the challenge of connecting people to these resources becomes less daunting when all those aforementioned resources are in the same (very large) room. This is one of the many exciting things about the Day of Caring Resource Exchange event, hosted annually by the United Way of King County, where WithinReach was one of many organizations represented.
For those unfamiliar with the CRE: picture an exhibition hall full of people and community organizations coming together to support Seattle’s community of individuals experiencing homelessness. The event is planned with a vision of connecting people in need to resources ranging from library cards to community clinics, new shoes to flu shots, pet care, health care, hair care, and everything in between.
For WithinReach’s AmeriCorps Bridge to Basics team, the CRE was an exciting event for lots of reasons. For many of us, this was our first day of outreach as AmeriCorps members. This means that we were speaking to clients for the first time, describing the work that WithinReach does in the community and what services we could help them find. Communicating a clear, concise, and comprehensive talk while staying cool, calm, and collected is something that I’ll continue to practice, but for a first-day doing outreach, I was excited to see the positive response we received from clients and fellow service providers.
Need more reasons to love the chance to have all of these providers in the same place? Every time that I was approached and asked where to sign up for a library card, or where to get a new pair of shoes, it was exciting to not have to pull out a map. “Right over there!” was about as complicated as directions got. It’s ideal for us as we work to connect people with these resources, and, of course, it removes the barrier of distance between organizations that might prevent clients from being able to locate the services they need. All told, the CRE was an ideal setting to learn about the resources available in our community, because many of those organizations were our next-door neighbors for the day.
I’m excited to learn more from outreach events like the CRE as the year continues. We will be visiting food banks, book stores, community centers, health fairs, libraries, and many other community sites in order to connect families with the resources they need to be healthy. Starting the year with an event like the CRE was like hitting the ground running (Look at all these people! Look at all these resources!) It’s wonderful to be part of WithinReach’s newest AmeriCorps team, serving such a resilient, diverse, and warm community in Seattle and beyond.


Tags: AmeriCorps   Day of Caring Resource Exchange   United Way   

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