A Letter about progress, hope and caring…

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Below we would like to share an important letter from an Embedded Social Worker from the Everett Police Department.

This is a true example of how Sunrise employees are real people who partner with individuals and families to define goals and identify challenges they face, develop a successful small-step approach to problem solving, and identify community resources and service options. We are extremely proud of Amanda and Christina, the employees recognized in the letter below.

Please note: Parts of the letter have been edited to protect the client’s identity.

Dear Ruth and Beth,

This is long overdue, but I wanted to share with you both what wonderful staff you have at Sunrise Services. As an Embedded Social Worker with the Everett Police Department, I worked closely with the Chronic-utilizer Alternative Response Team (CHART), a program that works with the highest utilizers of EMS, jail, emergency department, and law enforcement services and helps them to avoid unnecessary interactions with all of these sectors by connecting them to the resources that will allow them to meet their basic needs.

In October, I was tasked with providing case management for seven of the CHART clients. One client had been living on the streets of Everett for over 16 years. He had been used as a “guinea pig” for drugs, run over by a police vehicle, and taken advantage of on many different levels. Within my first week of working with him, approximately 5 months before I reached out to Sunrise Services, it became clear to me that he wasn’t a typical person with an addiction living on the streets, but an especially vulnerable man with a developmental delay.

In his 16 years of coming into contact with police, fire, and going through the criminal justice system, I found that he had never been referred to protective services or connected to appropriate resources, and, instead, had been sent back to the streets to fend for himself. After months of connecting him to essential resources, including primary care, community mental health services, and Home and Community Services, and attempting to get him approved for DDA services, he was assessed for an Adult Family Home placement with a daily rate of roughly $56/day.

I set out to find a home for him, contacting over 100 AFHs in the process, and received, by and large, a uniformly negative response. Many of the homes laughed at the rate outright, others would say “no” upon hearing the amount and promptly hang up, and less than a handful told me that “only if his rate goes up could we possibly consider him.”

I then contacted Sunrise Services and spoke with Christina. Out of all of my calls to potential AFHs, Christina was the first and only person to ask me about the client. Christina wanted to find out who this person was, what they were going through, and what kind of home they were looking for – not just a dollar figure. I discussed his specific situation and the rate with Christina and she told me about the AFHs that Sunrise Services operates and discussed different services/options with me (such as Extended Community Services), many of which had never been explained or viewed as possible options for him.

Christina & Amanda
Christina & Amanda

Christina and Amanda were my main points of contact and both exemplified professional, client-focused, direct communication and, honestly, made the incredibly difficult process with HCS and the BHO run more smoothly than I’d ever hoped. I was always kept in the loop with where we were at in the process, what information was needed, and where the other entities (such as the BHO and HCS) were at as well. I was taken aback by the care that your staff takes when reviewing and determining if a client might be a good fit for a home.When the client’s rate was increased by the BHO, it didn’t become a “great we will take him, even without any support in place just because of the rate,” but rather a step towards determining how to create a safe space for him and all the other individuals in the AFH by getting mental health support, primary care, and additional supports all in order prior to him moving in.

Christina was an absolute superstar advocate for the client and it is clear to me that she is that way with all of her clients. When Amanda and Christina met with him for the first time I was struck by their empathy and ability to actually treat him like a person, something, from his years on the street that I saw firsthand has been consistently denied to him.

While going through this process with Christina and Amanda, the client was making strides in his ability to communicate and to make his needs known. They would try to engage him and miraculously, he would respond. This was significant progress for someone who just 6 months prior wouldn’t have been able to ask for water. On move-in day the support continued and he was introduced to the home with a warm welcome.

Christina and Amanda coordinated with Compass to ensure that his clinician would be there and were also able to get his HCS case manager on-hand. When he made it through his first night it was an unbelievable milestone as he had not slept in his own bed, ate with a group, or been safe from the constant threat of being taken advantage of in years. Although he would wander away multiple times, after 16 years of walking miles upon miles daily and eating at the Mission, since those were his only options, it, of course, would take some time to change those learned behaviors, Christina kept me informed of the situation and what was needed every single step of the way. That transparent and clear communication was a godsend and a change from most social services systems I’ve interacted with alongside and behalf of clients that have felt cold and bureaucratic.

While he may not be at the Adult Family Home any longer, he made tremendous strides during the few weeks he stayed there. Larger strides than any police officer could have imagined after seeing him on the street for 16 years. I know, without a doubt, that his success would have never been possible without the dedicated, client-centered, and empathetic approach taken by Christina and Amanda.

This was the first real opportunity that he had been given to be in a safe environment, where he was treated as a human being, where he didn’t have to hide so that individuals wouldn’t take advantage of him. Though he hasn’t yet been able to break free from his pattern of wandering/walking the streets and spending time at the Mission, which of course will take much time and many tries, I still find it miraculous that he was able to have the opportunity to know that there are others out there who see his humanity, think of him as someone that matters, and genuinely care for him.

His progress has had an impact on the homeless community and given those who know him a much needed sense of hope. If this client, one of the most recognizably chronically homeless individuals on the streets of Everett, could do it, then perhaps they could to. This impact wouldn’t have been possible without your two team members.

I felt it would be a tremendous disservice to your team to not share the awe, shared by all of the CHART team that we have for Christina and Amanda and the exceptional work they do. It has been a privilege working with them and as a community member the work that they do absolutely speaks to Sunrise Service’s mission and dedication to serve vulnerable members of our community.

Thank you!

Staci McCole