"We're from the government, we're here to help you."
These lines were often used by former President Ronald Reagan as a cynical comment on the ability of government to solve problems. This view evokes a smile, but let's look at the reality of life-changing events that are all too common today.
You lose your job, can't make your mortgage payments and lose your home, health insurance is too costly, the family succumbs to the pressures and ends in the divorce court, and people who never dreamed they would be homeless wind up on the streets.
We have people who are fearful, frustrated and experiencing severe depression.
I believe that as a community we need to respond to help individuals and families minimize the impacts of agonizing times, and help those suffering these conditions to recover and begin to have faith in the future.
This is why I believe in and support the Concord Cares system that is being developed.
Over the past year, a group of concerned leaders from the nonprofit and governmental sectors have worked together to design an efficient and coordinated interagency system for providing responsive and immediate support for those in acute need.
Key factors in making this prototype system work effectively are identifying and defining specific points of entry within Concord for meaningful needs assessment; and solidifying interagency client/consumer transitions so that the continuation of care is possible -- designated as "the warm hand-off."
The goal is to quickly and comprehensively determine basic needs and assess what is necessary for someone to move to a position of balance, stability and eventual self-sufficiency.
During my term as mayor, I have been working with Pamela Singh, project coordinator for LINC (Local Integrated Networks of Care).
Pamela contributed material that is being presented in this article.
She has advised me that, "Concord Cares is not reinventing the wheel, but rather leveraging the strengths of the existing wheel utilizing active service providers and building synergy to be more efficient and effective."
This includes facilitating information-sharing, and improving the continuum of support not only with nonprofit organizations, education systems and governmental organizations, but also with local businesses, utilizing relationships created with the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce.
Yes, this is a lofty vision, having a fully integrated support system within our community, but we can do it.
We are on the periphery of initiating this program. People in need in our community will be encouraged, knowing they are not alone during their time of difficulty.
The services envisioned include, but are not limited to, assistance with food, shelter, medical/mental health services, safety/security, job readiness, basic needs referrals, and more. We all understand it takes time to establish trust and belief in any system, and this is true in the case of Concord Cares.
My hope is that this program will have a positive economic impact and benefit for our local community. To achieve our long-term goals, we need the support of entire community.
The organizing team behind Concord Cares is LINC.
It is working diligently to have the program launch officially in January, with a phased introduction of services to ensure that each step, or element, of the program is working successfully prior to adding additional steps.
We will increase community outreach, partner coordination, client/consumer/agency feedback and continue to improve the program based on ongoing monitoring and evaluation.
We need to be proactive rather than reactive in serving our community.
One example: in a recent situation our Police Department and the Monument Crisis Center were able to assist a family of four who were hitting roadblock after roadblock in securing critical services after the father lost his job.
Through a coordinated extraordinary effort, this family is moving back on track thanks to the "warm hand-off."
This family was facing a disaster; instead, they were able to keep their housing, obtain critical surgery for the mother, and preserve their family's stability.
It took the combined efforts of a dedicated, caring team.
This is what Concord Cares is about and why I am so supportive.
I want my city, my community, to be ready to help in times of need. Who knows, if this prototype system can work here, perhaps it will ultimately be expanded to other cities.
Helix is the mayor of Concord. Email him at email@example.com.