Eye-Opener on Social Innovation Process

9 07 2009

By: Hannah Kim

Up until a meeting with homeless advocate Ben and recovering addict Sally (both pseudonyms) at the Trinity United Church Food Bank in Port Coquitlam yesterday, my biggest concern with the flowchart in the previous post was fleshing out the most viable and sustainable funding model. However, Sally and Ben helped me realize that I have been blind to perhaps the most critical step in the process of helping homeless people in the Tri-Cities become self sustainable: finding the “right” clients.

According to Ben and Sally, the key driver to seeing effective and durable results to our social innovation is identifying a homeless people who are wanting and willing to change their circumstances, and open-minded to a different kind of life that is possible off the streets. Especially for people who have become accustomed to life on the streets, this begs the question, how do we mitigate the fear of the unknown? As unimaginably tough and challenging the conditions may be on the streets, these may be the “devils” that homeless people are familiar and ready to deal with according to Ben, compared to stability, accountability and many other responsibilities that come with having a home and a job.

To find the most suitable homeless clients who will go through our sponsorship/giving circles program, both Ben and Joyce Lissimore (coordinator, Trinity United Church food bank) highly recommended collaborating with outreach workers from the Hope for Freedom Society. Thanks to daily interactions with homeless people and the fact that they keep a file on each homeless client, outreach workers will be able to help come up with criteria for selecting candidates who are the most willing and able to become self sustainable. These criteria may include the following:

  • Must have devised a plan to self sustainability with outreach worker
  • Lost home in the last 6 months
  • Willing and able to comply with rules set forth by this program and landowner
  • Currently employed in part-time or full-time job

In addition to setting the selection criteria and evaluating candidates, outreach workers from Hope for Freedom Society can also provide guidance on how to mitigate the fear of the unknown discussed above. For instance, a virtual tour (i.e. walk-through) of the entire social innovation program may be created through collaboration with the outreach workers.




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