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September 29, 2013
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Connecting the Dots for the Distressed
The needs of the LGBTQ community are as diverse as the beautiful people who make up the community. Sometimes people approach us having nowhere else to turn and unaware of the resources available to help them through their present situation.
Most of the time we can sign someone up for a support group, a class or an activity at Center on Halsted to help them get back on track, but when we don’t have a program or department that directly meets their more immediate needs, we set them up with Megan Salisbury, the Resource Advocate MSW Intern at Center on Halsted.
Megan is currently a graduate social work student and research assistant at Loyola University. She received her Bachelor’s in Social Work and a certificate in LGBTQ studies from Arizona State University. In addition to her studies, Megan has diverse experience with research and has volunteered at homeless shelters, with homeless street outreach, and at community action centers.
In her role as a Resource Advocate, Megan helps to “connect the dots” for clients by meeting with them individually to go over available resources they can turn to for help. “The system is big and complicated,” says Megan. “I am able to help distressed people detangle the web [of resources] and navigate through the system for them. It helps people in crisis to have a human component to clarify the root problem and offer real solutions.”
Megan spends a lot of time on the phone, cold-calling other agencies to find resources to help her clients. “I try to get as much information about clients’ situations beforehand, so when they show up to their first appointment we’re prepared to go over a list of options,” explains Megan. “These sessions are more about problem solving, not therapy. So we don’t get too personal. I consider where their support is and work to keep them close to that area. My clients leave their first appointment with at least three resources in hand.”
When Megan isn’t meeting with clients and cold-calling agencies to cultivate resources, she goes to an outside agency once a week to make sure our referrals are high quality and LGBTQ competent. She also surveys clients to get feedback on the agencies we refer them to ensure they have a positive experience.
Megan assists with a range of issues, including unemployment, homelessness, healthcare, finding food and clothing, and even finding home repair options for seniors and people with limited mobility. “All my clients teach me something new each day, and I’m so proud to be a part of an organization that offers this kind of service to people. Even if I’m just giving out a CTA map, I’ll do it if it helps someone get to where they need to be.”