Taking Community Partnering to the Next Level

staff meeting with customers, filling out forms.

At Disability Network Southwest Michigan, we are taking community partnering to a new level. We have always networked with other agencies throughout Southwest Michigan and have developed strong referral connections to serve our customers. This year, Disability Network’s Information & Referral department has stepped up some of those relationships by having one of our staff members located in other agencies’ offices one day a week.

Having a staff member embedded at other agencies better serves our customers because we can meet them where they are. This allows people needing services to address several needs at one location without having to navigate different agencies’ complex systems or worry about transportation to multiple community service providers. This makes our services more accessible and more familiar to the people we serve.

Additionally, by being on-site at other agencies’ offices every week, our staff can collaborate with those community partners more effectively.  It increases the knowledge that other agencies have of Disability Network’s services, and vice versa.  “No one agency does it all. Frequently our customers need services from more than one agency; we can’t work in silos and provide the best assistance,” said Sarah Stoll, one of our I&R Specialists. “Our customer’s get more powerful service and advocacy when we all work together.” Currently we are located at Urban Alliance (Mondays, 1:00-4:00), Ministry with Community (Fridays 9:00-12:00), The Village at Kalamazoo Defender (Thursdays, 8:30 – 5:00), and in our Battle Creek office at Michigan Works (Wednesdays, 9:00 – 4:00).