On the Road with the Rural County Needs Assessment

May 8th, 2014

Letter from the road

Jen and Sierra here…just getting geared up for many weeks of outreach in rural Thurston County!

Today, we set up a booth at Bailey’s IGA in Rochester during the mobile CSO event, which was scheduled from 9-noon.  We were hoping to survey the folks who would be utilizing their unit.  We brought both English and Spanish printed surveys, thank-you letters with information about the Rural Needs Assessment project, and POWER brochures.  Hot coffee and friendly smiles enticed __ people to come and complete our survey, a great success!

The rain fell hard as we set-up the booth and the parking lot at IGA seemed to be a pretty low-traffic place at that particular time of day.  A minor vehicle collision (someone’s giant pick-up truck kicked itself out of gear and rolled into our car…yes, this happened!) spiced things up early on; however, we were able to work multiple survey responses into the compensation package.  The folks involved were very thankful for the work we are doing in the area, “it needs it,” one person noted.

We also witnessed some deep interest in the project.  One woman (Karen) mentioned she couldn’t “get started on her soap box…or [she’d] be there all day.”  We sent her home with a survey and information about the project.  We look forward to hearing from her to schedule an interview!  Another person, Mark, mentioned that though he and his wife do not use social services, she is a caregiver for the elderly and serves as a resource for linking people with services in the area.  We gave Mark a survey and our contact information; we believe his wife would be an invaluable person with whom to speak about key needs in the community.

Another mission we had was to engage the mobile CSO staff and organize some collaboration at future events.  Concerned about the low turn-out, we asked about promotion of the events.  One staff member told us they contact the local business in the areas where they are scheduled and send them flyers to post on windows and bulletin boards.  The mobile CSO website states that priority is given to community partners who agree to promote the event.  Although we couldn’t find a flyer on the IGA bulletin board, we hope to help promote future events in our target areas.  When Sierra suggested to the CSO staff members on duty that we collaborate for future events in our area, one staff member suggested we use their Facebook page.  Upon visiting the Facebook page, we noted it is seemingly under-utilized and updated with event details at the very last minute.  We hope to connect with them in future and brainstorm ideas to make their visits more effective.

At the end of the day, we visited ROOF, Rochester Organization of Families, to connect with their staff and set-up appointments for interviews.  We also scheduled our next outreach event at the ROOF Food Bank on Monday, May 12, from 9:30 AM until noon.

We are very excited to be engaging people in our rural communities!  We felt the need for this work so very acutely during our event yesterday.  If nothing else, giving people space to voice their concerns, their experiences and their wisdom about how these services help (or fail) them in their day-to-day.  Many, many thanks to all the folks who came out and spoke up!

See you soon,

Jen and Sierra

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