Living in the Community
Living in a community is about doing shared activities, being a part of shared experiences and having shared memories. A big part of integrating residents into the community here at the Trust, are the groups, field trips and community events we provide to our residents.
Our Resident Services Coordinators facilitate a variety of groups. We have everything from recovery/therapeutic groups to socialization/recreation groups. We have a unique resident population and we try to offer a diverse range of groups that meet resident needs. Therapeutic and recovery centered groups are available to residents on a weekly basis, as well as groups that focus on aiding clients develop social skills and support networks. Recovery in housing is an important part of the process of healing for many of our residents, who also have access to recovery related groups facilitated by certified substance abuse specialists that address where they are in their “road to recovery.” Our recovery related groups are conducted within a harm reduction framework. Residents who attend these groups find the groups to be an important part of their recovery regime.
Resident groups also focus on different areas; for instance; we have a section of groups that focuses specifically on health and wellness. Yoga and gardening are both popular health and wellness groups. We contract with a professional yoga instructor who works on-site at one of our facilities to teach yoga to residents. She shows residents how to cultivate a yoga regime they can practice in class or on their own. Residents meet once a week in a serene location to mediate, practice yoga and learn deep breathing. Yoga has many mental and physical benefits and our yoga class is important part of our health and wellness program.
See some of the other groups and activities below.
Field Trips and Outings
Our residents have expressed to us over the years that field trips and outings have been positive experiences for them because it provides an opportunity for people to “get out of Skid Row” for the day. Getting out of Skid Row is not only a physical act but also a mental transition. Many residents do not always have the chance to venture to other destinations in the city due to lack of transportation, financial restraints, physical and/or mental disabilities. By taking a resident to Zuma Beach in the summer time to observe the tide pools, see the 134,000 square foot Central Garden at the J. Paul Getty museum or for a beautiful spring hike in Eaton Canyon, we offered an opportunity for someone to go somewhere they have never been before and experience something different from their normal life. Residents have expressed that field trips outside of the area have been healthy and important for their mental well being. We have had a series of beach trips in the summer to Malibu, Zuma and Santa Monica Beaches. Residents were also able to go on many fun day trips to educational centers like the Griffith Park Observatory, the Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Zoo.
The Trust organizes community events with resident participation in mind. Resident participation and attendance at these events are very important to the goal and mission of our organization. We are constantly working to engage, nurture and cultivate community with our residents. A few events that highlight our engagement with the Trust resident community is the annual Trust Block party. The block party is a chance for residents, staff and local neighbors to mingle and enjoy a day in the sun. This past November the Trust participated in United Way’s HomeWalk 2013 event at Exposition Park. HomeWalk is an annual event where staff and residents come together for a 5K walk to end homelessness in Los Angeles. It is a fun and spirited day for residents and staff to spend time together, exercise and raise money for an important cause. Every participant received a Trust HomeWalk 2013 T-shirt as a keepsake.
Each building of the Trust has its own sense of community as well. Every month, there is a community meeting for each building. The purpose of these meetings is for staff to disseminate useful information to residents regarding groups, upcoming events and information on local resources. The meetings are also a time when residents are able to interact and engage with their neighbors and staff. A light meal is provided.
The holidays are also a time of community and togetherness for residents. Often for annual holidays like Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, staff and residents collaborate to have a party to celebrate the occasion. For example, every year the Trust hosts and provides the supplies for a Thanksgiving meal in each building. Residents and staff cook the food, serve and eat together in a communal setting. It is a contemplative time of year for folks to reflect and a good opportunity for everyone to share a meal as a community.
The Trust has had partnerships with local non-profit organizations Ur-BIN Garden, LA Food Heroes and the LA Community Action Network to host gardening groups at a number of our facilities. These organizations have collaborated with the Trust residents and staff to construct gardens at the Rainbow, Abbey and Start Apartments. The Abbey garden is a rooftop garden on the 5th floor deck of the building. The Rainbow garden is located in a sunny location in the back of the building. The brand new Star Apartments community garden is part of the 15,000 square feet of outdoor space on the second floor. The residents who attend these groups meet once a week with volunteers from Ur-Bin Garden and LA Food Heroes to plant vegetables and flowers. After group, residents and volunteers prepare lunch with the fresh vegetables harvested from the garden. The garden group offers residents an activity encouraging good health and nutrition through the act of growing and consuming organic fresh produce. It also offers a way for residents to reduce stress while learning a new skill.
We launched a new program called JO!N IN. in 2012, which gives incentives to residents for participating and attending on-site Trust groups. When a resident attends a group they receive a ticket which goes into a raffle pot that puts them in the running to win prizes at the end of that month. The more groups a resident attends, the more tickets he/she receives, thereby increasing his/her chances of winning a prize. In addition, each Trust building is assigned a color that corresponds to their respective building. Not only are individuals eligible to win prizes, buildings are eligible to win a JO!N IN party for having the most residents participate. The color coding system is a way to track building participation. At the end of August 2012, the resident services department held a huge JO!N IN raffle party where winners were chosen. Many residents turned out for the event and were able to enjoy live music and root beer floats. JO!N IN was a huge success and we had a big turnout of residents attending groups. The resident services department plans to continue the JO!N IN Program on a quarterly basis.
Living in a community is more than just having an apartment in a Trust building; it is about the experiences that residents share with staff and their neighbors.
Living in a community helps residents realize they are not alone but part of a larger network of people who care and support them.
Living in a community helps residents develop positive and supportive relationships with others and most importantly with themselves.
Living in a community gives residents a chance for shared experiences and collective memories.
Living in a community means more than just having an address . . . it is about coming home.