Director Of STRIVIN’ Hub In Raytown Believes Better Communities Start With Helping Individuals Better Their Lives
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2021
Carolyn Whitney usually exudes optimism but not in an all-is-rosy fashion. She knows reality can often be harsh, so helping others improve their reality has become her life’s work. The Sisters In Christ executive director expresses her optimism in a determined—sometimes demanding—sort of way: we can’t settle for the glass only being half-full when it needs to be filled to the brim.
To hear her state bluntly “we’ll always have crime” can be unsettling. Even dispiriting. “We have criminals who are just criminals,” she observes. “That is what they do.”
But Whitney quickly expounds her belief that “a lot of other people may commit crimes out of desperation, because they need mental health care or have addiction issues, or they’re dealing with economic hardships or past traumas.” Then she brings the optimism:
A police officer goes to the door and has to assess how can they best resolve that situation right now. They aren’t going to be able to assess what trauma has possibly been going on inside that home possibly for years and maybe been bringing police to the door repeatedly. Is there a problem with alcoholism? Was the father or mother themselves an abused child?
What we are able to do if we get a referral from the police is to do a more intimate assessment, try to get to the root cause of the situation. Then we refer the person to all the resources out there so that they can get the help they need—mental health services, addiction treatment, maybe help just getting enough food in the house. Then maybe the police officer never has to come back knocking on that door again.
The police alone aren’t the answer. It really takes the whole community. One of the best ways to reduce crime in the community is to reduce the despair in people’s lives.
‘NEEDS ARE WIDE AND VARIED’
Prior to the introduction of the STRIVIN’ Social Services Referral portal in Raytown, the city’s police officers would often suggest families and individuals contact Sisters In Christ directly.
“We’ve all got Carolyn’s cell number and would just give it out to people,” Raytown Police Chief Bob Kuehl says, “but that’s really not what you’d call a ‘system.’ What that was is a recipe for overwhelming a very dedicated lady.”
The STRIVIN’ Referral portal provides more than a systematic structure through which Raytown’s police officers and school officials can make formal referrals to Sisters In Christ. The database tracks the follow-ups Sisters In Christ does and notes the types of assistance people are needing.
“What the data is showing us is that the needs are wide and varied,” says COMBAT Director Vince Ortega.
Of the 53 referrals made in Raytown July 1 – November 30, more than 20 different “referral types” were identified, including housing (8.78%), food (7.21%), clothing (6.9%) and mental health (6.58%). The data can be broken down by zip codes to help indicate areas of need in specific neighborhoods.
Joint Effort Need To Reduce Violence
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
Raytown Police Chief Believes COMBAT Social Services Referral System May The Be First Of Its Kind In The Nation
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2021
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2021
STRIVIN’ is making significant strides in Raytown.
Through its special Striving To Reduce Violence In Neighborhoods (STRIVIN') initiative, COMBAT has introduced an innovative social services referral program that Raytown Police Chief Bob Kuehl believes “is the first of its kind in the nation.” Using the new STRIVIN’ Referral portal, Kuehl’s officers can connect individuals and families in distress to a whole host of community resources that offer crucial services.
“As police officers, we always want to help people,” says Raytown officer Lisa Barnett, “but we can’t always fix the issues in their lives. We’re responding to the immediate crisis they’re having. We’re going from call to call. With this referral application, we can do something more to help them.
“It’s amazing for us to have a resource like this—right at our fingertips.”
ONE REFERRAL TO ONE AGENCY
To help people, no matter the issue(s) causing their distress—unemployment, not having enough money for food and/or rent, a mental health crisis, a substance use disorder, some other hardship—Raytown officers can now make one referral to just one agency. That referral can then lead to life-changing, possibly even life-saving, assistance being provided.
“All there is to it is checking a couple of boxes and hitting SUBMIT,” says Chief Kuehl. “Filling out the referral form is simple on your phone and can be done anywhere, anytime.