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Hello, I'm a social worker and I just started a position as a Case Manager/Advocacy Specialist at a small LGBT community center in Washington, DC. My position is grant-funded and the only way they could get accepted was by creating a dedicated advocacy position outside of therapy services. My job is poorly defined and is honestly the creation of a person that does not want to be a program director nor do they want to be in-person with the community they serve. I'm just a bit overwhelmed with where to start. The other people on my team are remote and very disconnected with what in person is like or what the needs are. Our front desk on daily has people coming in with housing/shelter and food insecurities and the best they can do is direct to our pantry (if there is anything) and give them a resource guide that has not been verified/updated in a long time. I really need to develop a referral service system that connects to my advocating role but before that I feel like the most immediate thing (and most helpful for me learning other community services) is to update the resource guide but since Im overwhelmed im not even sure where to start with that. Any advice, tools or resources would be DEEPLY appreciated. Thank you so much!

            Thanks for writing to us at the Community Tool Box with your  challenging question. What you describe may seem like a difficult situation. But we seeat least two pieces of good news:
            First, if it’s true few others in your center are not paying much attention to the issues you face, you may have a lot of freedom to act, and that can be good.
            Secondly, and more importantly, you already have many of the resources you need, in the form of the other organizations themselves. They can do much of the needed work for you. Accordingly, your task is to leverage and channel these resources to produce good outcomes.
            More specifically, in your situation we might proceed as follows:
            *  Identify the key resources
            *  Identify a key contact person for each resource
            *  Develop a simple form with that when filled out will provide key information about that resource  (one  page should do it)   (Since you mention that a resource guide has not been updated for a learning time, here’s your chance to update it.)
            *  Get in touch with your contact people and ask them to fill in the form
            *  Collect the forms, with follow-ups as necessary.
            *  Compile the data into a resource directory. Since this will be online, additions and corrections can be made on a regular and ongoing basis. Send the directory to everyone who participated in creating it, and perhaps also to others who didn’t, with an upbeat message expressing optimism about what you all can do together.       
            Think of this as your “gift” to them.  (And note that thoughtful advance planning and a one-step-at-a-time approach should keep you from feeling overwhelmed.)
            When that much is done, you can move on to the issue of a shared referral system. You could invite people key representatives you choose to a meeting to explore what this might look like.  Since you should already have built some good will through your directory project, participation on this task should come easier.  
            With some advance planning and strategic prior contacts, you might then create a task group to draft what such a system might look like.  That group could bring its draft before the larger group for discussion, revision, and elaboration.  Other steps will follow, but at this point you should be on your way.
            In a nutshell: If you can keep in mind the key principle  of utilizing and leveraging the resources you already have, that will help set you on a path toward successful community action.  And we look forward to your success!  

Question Date: Thu, 12/01/2022