Author Archives: Megan

Giving Thanks

Thanks for your feedback!

MAAC just wrapped up our semiannual customer service survey week. A big THANKS to our agencies and community partners for all your valuable input and for taking the time to let us know how we’re doing. We welcome the constructive thoughts and are grateful for the appreciation we received.

MAAC is thankful for you and your agency and all the hard work you do for our community. We are happy to call you friends and partners.

Because it’s Thanksgiving week…

Keeping in the theme of the season, the MAAC staff would like to share some of the things we are thankful for:

Natasha is “thankful for being in a line of work that will affect social, systemic and political change.”

Howie is “thankful for a civilization that continues to expand its horizons of inclusion.  In our work that mainly means who can be included in safe, appropriate housing, but I’m also grateful that together we’re including LGBTQ citizens in the legal protections and privileges of marriage, and that we’re including families with children born in the US to undocumented parents in our society without fear of separation, just for a couple examples.”

Stephanie is “thankful for the good fortunes in my life.  I am very aware of how much harder my life could be.”

Glory is “thankful for great holiday food!”

Shelly is “thankful for hot coffee, Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad and a partner to drink it with, the mischievous smiles of my kids, and the heaviness of her body when I rock my littlest one to sleep. Oh, and MAAC. I’m thankful for a job that I love, too :) “.

I’m (Megan) thankful for patience, compassion, acceptance, my job and coworkers, good music, walks with my dogs, yoga, and friends who are my family.

We are all thankful for Linda (our Finance/Operations Director), because she rocks at her job and is an amazing baker and cook who is willing to share her goodies with us often.

Our fearless leader, John, is “just thankful to be here, for my family and friends, their health and wellness, and my work. And [like last year], I’m thankful for covered parking.”

Jill has shared a Classy comic with us to express her current thankfulness:

classythankful2014

There are so many ways to give thanks and things to be thankful for…

As we embark on this holiday season, may we find joy in the little things and celebrate what we have while continuing to share in this sentiment and help others in whatever ways we do… however that looks to each of you.

Happy Turkey Day and Holidays ahead!

True Blue Kansas City

Kansas City is electric (blue) right now

It seems that right now a lot of other people around the country are figuring out what we’ve known for a while… Kansas City is the best! Even the mayor’s writing open letters about it. And our symphony is in on the action. Everywhere you turn, there we are loving our city and the Kansas City Royals. It’s pretty awesome.

blue kc royals blue kc MLB: ALCS-Baltimore Orioles at Kansas City Royals royals paul rudd royals slugger

While we’re cheering on our boys in the blue in the World Series, we’re reminded of all of the things that make KC the great place that it is. Here’s to a little continued civic pride even after Hosmer and Moose are done hitting home runs for the season (and after we win that Commissioner’s Trophy!)…  and to extending this spirit further into doing great things for our community.

Reasons to Smile

Today as we reflect on the tragic events of 13 years ago, our thoughts are with the thousands affected by 9/11 as well as our country and its leaders.

Tribute in Light

It seems like it’d also be a good time to point out just a few things I’ve recently seen that might give us some reasons to smile… Because that’s never a bad thing.

Like this Indianapolis police officer who stopped not to hassle a homeless man, but instead to give him a new pair of boots. And the indy police officer shares bootsfact that an Indiana Pacers player captured it on his drive home from the gym and shared it with his almost 200K Instagram followers, is just icing on the cake.

 

shower bus

 

Or these retired San Francisco Muni Buses that a woman, with the help of the city, turned into mobile showers for the homeless.

 

Also, this agency in Vancouver who created pop-up shelters for their homeless out of existing city benches. The benches also give more info about how to get connected with their services.

park bench shelter

And just yesterday here in our very own KC, the sweetest thing I’m so happy to have witnessed all week (maybe so far all month) – on a corner just south of the Plaza where you can commonly find a homeless person with their sign, an older gentleman stood just that way. Trying to ask for some compassion; whether he was looking for money or food or some work, I’m not sure. I was stopped at a light headed in a direction not facing him and didn’t even notice until one of the cars going toward him slowed and rolled down their window. A hand emerged holding two large boxes of pizza and grocery sack with what appeared to be a couple two-liters of soda. I wish that I had a video of not only the kind act, but the huge, seemingly never-ending (nearly toothless) grin on his face! The little jig he danced and the gratitude and almost disbelief he showed to the person in the car will hold in my memory. We know that didn’t solve all his problems, but wow… for that moment, he had a reason to smile. It was one of the greatest looks of joy I’ve seen.

So this week, as we remember the past and quite possibly have some difficult days, I’m going to try to remind myself that it’s often the little things that make a big difference.

2014 NAEH National Conference on Ending Homelessness

NAEH 2014 National Conference on Ending Homelessness…

took place July 29th-31st in Washington DC. And it was a great one! The feedback and comments about the workshop sessions as well as the speakers (First Lady Michelle Obama!) was very positive.

As an HMIS vendor, but also an interested champion in our field, MAAC staff attends the NAEH conference as both an exhibitor (see our awesome info table below) and as registered conference attendees.

naeh 2014 vendor tableSome of our highlights…

– First Lady Michelle Obama was the featured speaker on the last day of the conference. Read her remarks here. It was exciting. And required tons of security clearance and planning. Wow. But it was a great experience for the conference attendees!

– I attended HUD’s workshop on System Performance Measures. It was an introduction to understanding system-level performance measurement throughout entire CoCs. This is very important to us. This data will come from (and be calculated in) HMIS*. Even more so, it will be critical for CoC leaders and all of the HMIS participating agencies to understand how entering  their data affects what these reports tell us about the effectiveness of our programs, community-wide. I see lots of training in our futures! And that’s a good thing :)

* HUD was very clear in stating that the guidance they are giving on this not yet be programmed in or pulled from HMIS until they release the programming specifications later this Fall. Reporting on these performance measures won’t be required until later next year.

– Wednesday’s lunch Keynote speakers were NJ Senator Cory Booker and HUD Secretary Julian Castro. They were super! The Senator was very motivational and a great speaker.

– I also attended a Q&A Session with HUD on Thursday morning which was pretty informative from all perspectives of homeless programming. MAAC’s fearless leader, John, attended several other sessions throughout the conference that he felt very worthwhile including one with Iain De Jong (orgcode.com) that was packed and so standing-room-only that you could barely get through the door.

– Of course it would be very “un-MAAC” of me to leave out something about food! I had the pleasure of enjoying dinner one evening with John and our KS Balance of State friend/colleague, James. I have to give James props for this restaurant choice and would highly recommend it if you’re ever in DC (there are 3 locations) – Busboys and Poets. It was fantastic… not a chain; excellent, locally sourced food; and a really chill atmosphere.

As a participant and exhibitor, I’d say this year’s NAEH conference was a success and look forward to MAAC’s future attendance opportunities.

 

The Cost of Chronic Homelessness

A succinct article from Mental Health Association Oklahoma about the cost of chronic homelessness, based on a study out of Central Florida (along with it’s own related article):

What does $31,000 buy? Life on the Streets

Yet another plea for an increase in permanent housing with wrap-around services and case management vs, people living on the streets and/or constantly in and out of shelters. Side note: That’s not to say that there isn’t usefulness in emergency shelters – effectiveness is proven when used as a conduit to permanent housing or as a place to assess a homeless individual’s needs to get them re-housed (but that might be a different blog for a different day).

“The media outlets, homelessness advocates and the general public were fixated on how $85 per day will give someone an overpass above their heads at night in Florida, whereas $27 will provide the same person safe and affordable housing.”

Right… people on the streets cost tax payer dollars for law-enforcement and jail stays (largely for nonviolent offenses and transport), emergency-room visits and hospitalization, which = roughly $31,000 a year per person. The approximate annual cost of permanent housing and case managers for that same person = $10,000. Um. I’m no good at math, but this equationeed changen doesn’t seem that hard.

Sure, there are barriers. There are always barriers. But this can help people. All of us. Win-win. It seems to make better sense to invest in something that is going to save money for the public in the future as well as better assist individuals in need.