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  • Writer's pictureWill Averill

Community Advocacy

Not everyone who gets services from The Willow needs shelter. We have a crew of community advocates who work with clients who are escaping domestic abuse but have other needs besides a place to stay. We sat down with Delano Thomas, our Director of Community Services, to talk about what community advocacy is and what our advocates do for those who need something besides a place to stay.

Q: What's the purpose of community advocacy?

Delano: The Community Advocacy Program empowers clients and builds their resiliency when faced with explaining their story and their journey, which often happens when navigating social services.

Community Advocates work with the community at large and help the client navigate the realms of today's social environment. Community Advocates speak on the client's behalf if necessary while at the same time giving the client a safe space to find their voice and drive.

Q: What are the biggest challenges right now?

Delano: Clients trapped in the system who are dealing with their mental health while navigating the process of DV/SA/HT survival. Many clients also have difficulty finding affordable housing, leading to a sharp increase in the unhoused population in urban areas around Douglas county.

Q: What is a recent success you've had with the program?

Delano: Hiring new staff with vast amounts of community experience has allowed for developing innovative and creative safety plans for the clients and their children. The new team has brought on new community partners and training opportunities for their colleagues and clients.

Q: What are you looking forward to moving forward?

Delano: As the Director of Community Services, I would like to expand Willow's reach beyond the boundaries of our state and start collaborating with national and international partners.

Q: Anything people might not know about community advocacy but should?

Delano: "We are here to help individuals help themselves and show them that they can and will survive and succeed."

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