Apr 5, 2018
By Jacquelene Halliday
Employment Counsellors at the Gabriel Dumont Institute Training and Employment Regina Centre, Shanna Morrison, Brenda Fiddler, Ashley Strom, and Trish Hume, together with the Employment Services Manager Jacquelene Halliday identified a need for service providers to come together and share information on their services and programs. We wanted to ensure that we are providing the correct referrals when needed. After a few brainstorming sessions, the Regina Community Connections was born. That was in 2015.
The motive behind the Regina Community Connections was to bring together organizations in Regina that deal with similar clients and programs, to share information about programs and to see if there was a way the organization could work together more effectively. This would allow each organization to utilize the referral system and try to eliminate duplication of services, therefore allowing organizations to put funds to better use.
When the group was started, we really had no idea if it would even work out. Invitations were sent to a number of organizations that offer client services for career and employment development. We had two organizations that showed up for the first year. It was difficult to get organizations to see the value in coming together and share information. We continued to push forward with the vision of organizations working together to identify gaps in our services and to develop programs to fill these gaps and better serve our clients.
By the second year, connections had been developed by talking to individual organizations about the vision for the group, and a more formalized approach was taken. Meetings are held second last Tuesday of every second month and breaking for the summer months. Agendas were developed, and we started taking minutes. Organizations involved were asked to do a presentation to showcase the work that they do. This was a great way to inform the other participants of services, allow them to ask questions and start thinking about how each organization could utilize those services with their clients. Round table updates were given from each organization on upcoming programs and events.
By 2016, 22 organizations were participating in our meetings. The number grew to 29 in 2017. Needless to say, we outgrew our GDI boardroom. This created more challenges, but everyone strongly believed in the group and we started looking for a larger venue to house the meetings. This presented a great opportunity to the organizations to showcase their facilities by providing a tour after the meetings concluded.
Not only has this group allowed the sharing of information on programs and services, but its members have also been referring to the Community Connections Group as a pooling of resources when putting in proposals for future funding of programs. As well, it has allowed organizations to come together, identify needs that are not being met and look for ways to working together produce a better outcome. Clients are greatly benefiting from this structure, as they are able to gain access to the programs they require to be successful in achieving their employment goals.
At the end of last year, we started exploring a more permanent venue for future meetings. We sent out a survey to all the members to help provide a direction for the future of the group. The results confirmed the strong desire to continue with the group and the current direction. A number of the organizations liked the ability to have the venue move around to different locations, because they liked to see the facilities other organizations have.
Quite a few of the organizations have started to utilize the committee when putting in funding proposals and developing organizations strategic plans all with the common goal of how to better provide client services and to ensure the client’s needs are being met. It is exciting to see the participation from all the organizations and how quickly the group has grown. For more information about the Community Connections Group, including its membership, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.