Friday, August 14, 2009

Could you measure up?

Here at Central Dallas CDC we’re looking to hire a Community Outreach Representative for CityWalk@Akard. The position is a combination of Caseworker, Concierge, Community Liaison and Cruise Director—and of course we can’t afford to pay very much for someone with the talents to fulfill all of these roles. I’m reminded of Mrs. Paroo’s statement in The Musicman about her daughter Marian’s standards for men:

“I know all about your standards and if you don't mind my sayin' so there's not a man alive who could hope to measure up to that blend of Paul Bunyan, Saint Pat, and Noah Webster you've concocted for yourself out of your Irish imagination, your Iowa stubbornness, and your li'berry full of books!”

Marian never did find her perfect man, so she had to settle for an itinerant bandleader and salesman, but I hope we will do better!

The job of the Community Outreach Representative isn’t quite as bad as combining all the qualities of Paul Bunyan, St. Pat and Noah Webster, but it’s close.

The Community Outreach Representative will function in part as a caseworker. We don’t mean that in any clinical sense, but the person will need to be our eyes and ears in the community at CityWalk, keeping track of people and letting us know if someone seems to be having problems so we can check up on them and try to get them help if they need it. The goal will be to get somebody help before any problems get too bad.

In addition, the position will require some of the skills of a concierge. In part that means knowing people and knowing where to find things. If a resident needs medicine, then the Community Outreach Representative needs to know where to send them—and the same applies if a resident needs opera tickets. The Community Outreach Representative will need to know how to get reservations at Stephen Pyle’s Restaurant, and where to go to apply for unemployment benefits, or at least where to find out all this information. He or she will need to know where the churches are downtown, where the restaurants are and where you can find a tailor--everything, in short, that you might need to know for urban living.

He or she will also have to act as a community liaison. That will mean knowing how things work internally: how to ask to change to a different apartment; what to do if you’re going to be late on the rent; how to reserve a meeting room; or complain about a noisy neighbor. The community liaison will also be the person who lends a friendly ear, hears complaints and relays them to the management in an unthreatening manner. If we’re doing something wrong, then we need to know so we can do better. The Community Outreach Representative should be approachable.

Finally, the Community Outreach Liaison will act as a cruise director. We want our residents to enjoy living at CityWalk, and part of that means organizing events—fun things to do. There might be movie nights, Cowboys watching parties, knitting circles, community supported agriculture or other things that I can’t imagine, because I’m not that much fun. He or she may help plan birthday parties or communal meals. I’ve never been on a cruise, so I really don’t know, but you probably get the idea.

At least in our mind, all these different positions work together. We need someone who loves people and wants to spend his or her time helping them live better. It’s a lot for one person, so we hope to bring in at least some part time help, but we need someone to step in and define the positions—to show us how it’s done.

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