Community Care Extends Its Reach to Help Families
Dealing with crisis situations isn’t just a theoretical part of Monti Clayton and Dion Brown’s job description; it’s a reality of the day-to-day work they do at Mercy Home for Boys & Girls.
When members of our Community Care program need immediate help, they call Monti, Manager of Coordinated Supports, and Dion, a Care Manager.
Yesterday was just one of those days where my adrenaline was pumping, because I had to address three emergencies at one time.
Community Care, formerly known as AfterCare, has expanded to meet the needs of the greater community in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Community Care now has a greater focus on increasing community partnerships and utilizing resources to help our former youth and their families. This is where Monti and Dion come in.
“Prior to the pandemic, we were just dealing with members,” Monti said. “Now we’re dealing with families.”
It’s hard to define a typical day for Monti and Dion because there really isn’t one. They spend most of their day on the road and out in the community. And they never know when they might get a phone call with an emergency that will change the trajectory of the day. They are often tasked with delivering emergency supplies, so they have turned their car trunks into makeshift supply closets, carrying things like baby formula, baby wipes, towels, hand sanitizer, and various children’s clothing items—just in case.
“Yesterday was just one of those days where my adrenaline was pumping, because I had to address three emergencies at one time,” said Monti. “All of them were necessary, and I didn’t want anyone to have to wait too long.”
Even when there isn’t an emergency, they still spend time visiting Community Care members, connecting them with community resources, dropping off needed items, and just seeing how the members and their families are doing.
But making connections in the community is equally important. For example, through our partnership with the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services, Monti, Dion, and another coworker brought a medical mobile unit to Mercy Home. Members were invited to come and get flu shots, COVID-19 tests, and bring any other medical needs to the doctor’s attention, all free of charge.
In addition, if any of the members were currently experiencing unstable housing, they could be entered into the city’s database to get access to an affordable place to live.
In the future, I hope to have a bigger, better pool of community partners and a bigger network of resources where we can all communicate together to share and receive information from each other to help more people.
But even though Monti and Dion have been able to tap into helpful resources like these, not all problems have easy solutions. They constantly work to make connections across the city, but new problems continue to come up. That’s when they rely upon each other and what Monti calls the “ultimate plan.”
“Sometimes we’re confronted with things where we don’t have the answer or the resource or the solution, and it’s difficult because you want to help these people,” Monti said. “But in those instances, we bounce ideas off each other and brainstorm. We create what I call the ultimate plan, which is to come up with an idea, share the idea with the member or the family, incorporate their ideas, incorporate their strengths, and give them the resources.”
At the end of the day, both Monti and Dion are driven by their mutual desire to be out in the community, lending a hand. As they do so, they envision ways to expand their services.
“I’m the type of person that likes to help people,” Dion said. “In the future, I hope to have a bigger, better pool of community partners and a bigger network of resources where we can all communicate together to share and receive information from each other to help more people. It’s a great feeling when we help one person here and one family there, but I just wish I could help more people.”
That’s why Monti and Dion are focused on continuing to grow their community relationships, the most important resource Community Care has.
“It’s real important to build that type of relationship,” Monti explained. “We’re also learning that as we get cases, we know that we have to keep building on the foundation of establishing Community Care to make it stronger because the needs are getting broader.”
Thanks to the unyielding support of good friends like you, Mercy Home’s Community Care can meet these challenges head on. As we build upon our strong foundation, your support remains the cornerstone.