The organization that I chose for my Project Pericles Sabbatical is Room at the Inn of the Triad. It is a non-profit, non-denominational group home that assists homeless, single, pregnant women. It is unique among organizations of its kind because it serves clients with or without previous children, not only during their pregnancies but also after birth. The agency provides shelter, food, clothing, case management, in-house daycare, and classes on parenting and adoption.
On Dec. 30, 2002, I met with the Executive Director, Albert Hodges to discuss tasks to accomplish during my sabbatical. We narrowed it down to three: 1) create a resident's manual, 2) develop a basic brochure to be handed out during fund-raising events and speaking engagements; 3) develop an internship program for university students. The first two were completed and the last changed and has turned into a long term project.
Room at the Inn of the Triad has been in operation since May 2001. A resident's manual had been in the planning stages since the organization's inception but due to a lack of personnel, time, and funding, one had not been developed. When I began, I discovered there were guidelines I needed to follow. The manual had to be easy to read, because some of the mothers do not have a high school education. It had to be created using a software program currently in use at the group home's office. It also had to be formatted so pages could easily be updated when necessary, by people with limited computer knowledge.
I interviewed staff members and residents to discuss what was needed in a manual. Rules of conduct, house regulations, health tips, frequently asked questions, descriptions of the Exodus program and daycare were among the items suggested. The manual I created includes this information as well as a welcome, staff identities and responsibilities and important telephone numbers. It will be given to the young women as a reference when they become residents at Room at the Inn.
Room at the Inn also needed a brochure to be given out at fund-raising events and the director's speaking engagements. I created one that presents an overview of the organization, information on the needs of the residents and staff, and stories of three successful clients who completed the program. According to Mr. Hodges, this brochure will be used as a prototype for other brochures they hope to create in the future.
The last task, creating an internship program, must be deferred for completion at a later date. Due to a lack of funds, the organization cannot spare the time its personnel would need to administer an internship program. There is potential for several volunteer service learning projects, including tutoring the mothers who have returned to school, assisting the child development director in the group home's daycare center, and driving the mothers to appointments, job training or school.
The sabbatical was a successful experience. Working with people who needed and welcomed my help was extremely gratifying. I accomplished two of the tasks that I was asked to complete and will continue to pursue the longterm goal of getting students involved and eventually establish an internship program. The sabbatical gave me insight into the workings of an organization that depends on volunteers and donations. Room at the Inn showed me sides of the human condition I might otherwise have never had the opportunity to observe. I left the sabbatical admiring the strength of the young women who have fallen on difficult times and the service personnel who offer them hope, encouragement and support.