It is time to embrace the unmet needs in our communities. Misinformation is the greatest obstacle to needs assessment analysis, strategic planning, development and implementation of relief and emergency assistance efforts. America’s Action Plan for Community Service addresses these needs through optimization of communication networks that utilize internet, email, telephone and fax communications to reach every home through at least 5 different pathways.
Country Music Association Artist H-II: Stephen Michael Apatow is ready to coordinate performances in every major US city, providing the executive directors of frontline service programs an opportunity to articulate the size and scope of the unmet needs in their communities. The arts and entertainment industry has been asked to join him through the Arts Integration Into Education Initiative.
In the words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world; indeed – it is the only thing that ever has!”
In the early 90’s, the focus and commitment of full time training for two Olympic Sports was channeled into youth outreach and development (www.tourdeamerica.com). A decision to cycle 6000 miles, twice across the United States, opened the doors for Stephen M. Apatow to work with John Milton Wesley, liaison for the U.S. Secretary for Health & Human Services and communication director for the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI). This relationship led to the development of a national campaign in 1990 that opened the first toll free hotline (1-800-SAY-NO-TO-DRUGS) based in Rockville Maryland, to the American people, providing access to the largest information bureau in the world for substance abuse. This initiative is now recognized as the largest touch outreach campaign ever coordinated through the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (www.cycleacrossamerica.org).
In 1993, a 3000 mile Run Across America (www.runacrossamerica.org) increased awareness of community needs, volunteerism, and community service. Coordinated in cooperation with local front line programs in approximately 133 cities from Washington, DC to San Francisco, California, youth were provided opportunities to enter into the world of homelessness (youth, families, veterans), extreme poverty, desperation to see the hidden unmet needs that existed in their own communities. As they learned that the public’s awareness of these unmet needs represented the most significant factor that limited the flow of assistance, these youth had an instantaneous compassionate interest to make a difference.
Run Across America Campaign Opens 14 Point Assessment to Every U.S. Community
The inability of the state and local government programs to handle the needs of front line programs across the United States prompted the need for citizen involvement.
The following 14 point congressional mandate was constructed by the former U.S. House Select Committee On Hunger to evaluate available resources and unmet need.
The effective completion of the assessment will help individuals who desire to take a leading role in their communities, mediate steps that can to be taken to fill existent gaps. Whenever a gap is found in available services, a contact for a working grass roots program is provided that can help in the development of programs to meet your communities unique needs.
1. Is there a community based food delivery network in your area ? This coordinated network would include food pantries, feeding programs, soup kitchens, congregate meal programs and food banks.
2. Has a needs assessment been completed in your city/county area within the last year ? This would be defined as a comprehensive effort to collect information on the extent of food insecurity problems in the community.
3. Does your city/county area have an Anti-Hunger Policy Coalition ? This program would be defined as a central group of residents who gather information detailing the needs of the community to help develop courses of action for responding to gaps in existing services.
4. Is there a program to communicate the availability of Federal Food Assistance ? This program would educate residents about the various federal food assistance programs and work with local officials and private sponsors to improve the availability of services to all residents.
5. Is there a working program to mediate Public/Private Partnership ? This would include working relations between government agencies, private groups, non-profit organizations and businesses to work together to solve local food insecurity problems.
6. Are there any organizations promoting citizen involvement ? This would include efforts to educate residents about local food insecurity problems and encourage their involvement in activities to combat hunger.
7. Is there a communication network in place to provide information and referral services ?
8. Are there pathways existent to expand sources of low-cost food ? This area encompasses the development of creative food resources such as community gardens, buying clubs, food coops. farmers markets and community owned grocery stores.
9. Is there a program in your city/county area to target vulnerable population groups ? These efforts would identify and target services to those groups that are at high risk of food insecurity problems, such as homebound elderly and small children.
10. Are there food distribution services for transporting food to programs that provide emergency meals, etc. ?
11. Does your city/county provide direct access services: These are sites that are easily accessible to community residents?
12. Does your city/county provide public transportation services ? Residents, social service program administrators and public transit systems should work together to establish public transportation routes that provide direct community access to public assistance services and food outlets.
13. Does your city/county provide nutrition education classes ? These nutrition education programs are to help inform residents about the relationship between diet and health, and help them develop nutritious food buying and preparation habits.
14. Is your city/county area currently participating in gleaning programs for collecting and channeling to needy persons, wholesome foodstuffs which would otherwise go to waste ?
America’s Action Plan for Community Service
The objective to bridge unmet needs to untapped resources continues today through the “America’s Action Plan for Community Service” that includes the following objectives:
— To empower youth and community leaders with the tools they need to develop initiatives that can effectively bridge unmet needs to untapped resources in their communities.
— To encourage the immediate development of a needs coordinating group in every local community across the United States.
— To encourage the development of a communication network that would include the executive directors of all frontline service programs to obtain prioritized overviews of unmet community needs.
— To encourage the construction of a grass roots communication network (fax, email, postal) to all churches, interfaith organizations, youth leadership programs, volunteer programs, corporate networks and media outlets (newspaper, radio and television).
— To encourage the distribution of quarterly or bi-annual needs updates.
Questions? Contact the Humanitarian Resource Institute staff at: firstname.lastname@example.org Humanitarian Resource Institute invites all American’s to support this grass roots initiative in cooperation with the objectives of the Corporation for National and Community Service (http://www.nationalservice.org).