Feeling safe is a privilege. Being able to wake up in the morning, take your family to school, go to work, and come home without the thought of being placed in a harmful situation is a feeling that is foreign to some people. Constantly feeling unsafe can be detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health.
The Family Assessment Clinic (FAC) at Catholic Social Services in Washtenaw County recognizes the need for children, families and communities to feel safe. FAC has recently begun working with staff from Avalon Housing in two housing communities in the Ann Arbor area. Our goal is to facilitate community involvement focusing on safety at Carrot Way and Pauline using best practices on how to build safe communities.
On February 26, 2015 we held the first meeting with Avalon Housing at Carrot Way Apartments. It was a huge success! Community members participated in an activity that addressed what safety means for each of them in their community, their homes and within themselves. There was an expressed desire for a greater sense of community and discussion about how to build this. Residents came up with ideas and strategies for designing safety and what it would look like that included:
- Continue to talk more in small groups to get to know one another
- Build community connections to establish greater trust
- Be honest and engaged with one another in these interactions
- Find ways to talk about and address real fears, anxiety and skepticism about others
On Thursday, April 2, FAC held an initial meeting with Avalon Housing at Pauline from 7:00-8:30 pm. Participants spent time getting to know one another and establishing an understanding of the Family Assessment Clinic. Participants engaged in a lively conversation about their community including thoughts about safety. There was also expressed interest in the clinical services at FAC and how to access these.
Meetings will be held monthly alternating between these two communities. A team of staff and interns from FAC have committed to regularly facilitating these meetings. Together we will find ways to address concerns raised by residents and foster a greater sense of community!
Written by Mary Ortega, Clinic Administrator, Clinical Social Work Supervisor Family Assessment Clinic & Phyllis Shelman, MSW Intern