Division Update: Community Relations
By Nora Goebelbecker ’14
Happy Holidays from the Community Relations team!
Since Mark Shealy, Emily Campbell, and Meagan Howell joined the team in October, we’ve brainstormed different ways to connect with the people we exist to serve—whether they work right here on campus or somewhere else in South Bend.
We know that some of the challenges our clients often face require different or additional resources than the ones we can provide. Luckily, there are dozens of organizations in South Bend dedicated to providing respectful support to those in need. Our team is creating a directory of community resources so that we can connect our clients with these organizations. Working off of our own ideas and a comprehensive list compiled by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, we’ve called up groups ranging from immigration services to adult education, talked with them about what we do here at JIFFI, and asked them if we could mention them as a resource to clients who may benefit from the great work they do. Especially because the holidays are a busy time, this is still a work in progress, but it’s been a great opportunity for us to connect with other social justice efforts around South Bend.
We’re going to hit the ground running in January with two projects. First, we’ll be working with the Marketing Team to set up a regular volunteer arrangement in South Bend, possibly with the Monroe Circle Community Center. Every weekend, two teams will volunteer at the site we choose so that we get to know and serve South Bend and catch up with other teams—and let people know about JIFFI in the process! Second, we will be focusing outreach efforts on the 13% of South Bend residents who are Latino. Quite a few members of JIFFI are fluent in Spanish or almost fluent, and so when Professor Karen Gutierrez met with a few members of JIFFI to brainstorm communication and outreach strategies and she mentioned that her husband has experience with Latino outreach, she suggested that we might be able to set up a Skype session with him early next year to learn more about ways to reach out to South Bend Latinos.
Finally, I’ve been able to stay connected to the heart of what JIFFI is about because I’ve been able to serve as a JIFFI representative to one of our clients. I’ve met with her several times so far to go over her loan and to talk with her about financial planning strategies, and it’s been a privilege to work with her. She’s taught me a lot about resilience and even managed to find time in her demanding week to make me the most delicious macaroon I have ever tasted! The Community Relations Team welcomes any feedback or ideas that you’d like to send our way. Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.