The key to helping vulnerable communities: Treating them with dignity
It’s something that they don’t expect.
When people come into the Children’s Board Family Resource Center in Plant City, they are often looking to receive support. When the seek support from other institutions, they are treated like a nuisance, being left to feel like just another number.
But at this center, they are welcomed with the highest level of service.
“One of the ways that we try to create a dignified environment is by keeping it clean and setting it up in a way where it feels like it’s their space,” says Juli Day, Center Manager. “It might seem small, but when they’re coming in and they’re in crisis, something as simple as a coffee cart makes them feel welcome.”
Juli and her team are proud to have created a place where people feel dignified, and where they are served with “compassion and respect”.
One way this is exemplified is in the way they maintain the center’s clothing closet.
“With the center, we have people coming through all day every day. Anybody who manages a closet knows it can get out of hand, but we keep things folded and hung so they’re not digging through trash bags and it almost feels like a shopping experience.”
Last year, the team hosted a Christmas event that served 400 children. Caregivers came in and were able to shop for gifts to give to their children, and they were also provided with pajamas and books. The gifts would have been enough, but the team went one step further.
“We wrapped their gifts for them. It’s a great service and we could tell how much it reduced that additional stress of having to have wrapped everything themselves.”
And even when those from the homeless community enter the center, they take notice of the way the team goes above and beyond for them.
“We have one homeless woman who’s been coming in since we opened the center, “Juli reflects. “We’ve been able to help her with food stamps and Medicaid and even helped her to get her driver’s license reinstated. We assisted with social security which gave her a monthly income, and now we’re working toward helping her secure housing.”
The team has committed to doing more than treating their clients with respect, but to treat them as equals. And that compassion and dignity makes all the difference. If you’d like to learn more about the incredible work taking place at the center, please visit us at LSFNET.ORG.