Community Treasure Hunt Final Paper – Introduction

Carefully read through the prompt below.

Prompt:

Throughout the semester, you are to have been studying a community (or a specific section of a

community if it is part of a large urban area, Brownsville, Texas and the

services available to children and families in need. After gathering demographic data about the

community and immersing yourself in the community by walking through neighborhoods and

visiting social services agencies and other relevant community facilities (i.e., local church,

recreation center), you are to complete a ten page paper describing your findings.

Your Tasks:

Use the steps below to plan and gather information to complete your paper:

First, define your community:

A community is comprised of a shared identity by a population. The shared identity is usually

comprised of ethnicity, race, nationality, or religious affiliation. It can also be defined by

geographic location or proximity to a prominent land mark (i.e. “near downtown”). You must

identify and describe the community (for example, its name and geographic location) and explain how the community fits into the above definition. (Because you will be gathering demographic information about your community, you may want to define boundaries of your community either by city limits or one of more specific zip codes.)

Note that you will be looking at the community you have identified through the lens of a

community member who may need to access some of the available community services.

Second, follow the guidelines below and complete the following:

-Use public transportation, not your own vehicle, unless there is no public

transportation available. (If that is the case, be sure you note this in your paper, as not

being able to access key resources easily if you don’t have your own transportation is an

important finding when studying your community.)

-You are not to use resources that leverage your abilities above those a typical low income client might have.

-Spend time in the community and gain a “street level” perspective . Start experiencing

the community by walking around several core blocks of the neighborhoods. As you

walk around the neighborhood, record your observations of the physical, social, cultural,

and economic environments you encounter. Snap photos to document as you go or make

a quick sketch of the residential areas, businesses, places of worship, parks, institutions,

residences, and parks.

-Notice what people are doing in the area and how they respond to you and to each

other. Observe sounds, smells, and sights as you walk. Notice signage, the conditions of

streets, the availability of lighting, and the types of businesses and other organizations in

the area. What are the neighborhoods/homes like? Are they single family dwellings,

apartment complexes, trailer parks? Are there parks and other recreational areas nearby?

Churches, synagogues, mosques, or other religious entities? Schools? Businesses, and if

so, what kind? Are grocery stores with healthy produce easily accessible? How are the

homes, buildings, parks, and other facilities kept up?

-Visit local businesses, a religious organization if it is accessible, and other entities

that will help give you a feel for the area. Be professional as you do so. Many

business people and church personnel are community members and welcome educating

people about their communities, but be aware that they are busy so don’t be overly

intrusive/be respectful of their time.

-You may use your cell phone during this exercise to take pictures or videos (do not

photograph individuals without their permission and be sensitive to community members

when taking pictures of neighborhoods. You may also use your cell phone as a GPS

device if you are not sure of your location. Do not use it while you are completing this

exercise to text or make personal phone calls unless it is to let someone know where you

are (this is always a good idea when you go into an area you are unfamiliar with

regardless of its economic status).

-Interview at least one resident from the community (you must find residents who you

do not already know). Ask what the person sees as the strengths of the community/why

she/he likes living there and what the person sees as the challenges. (This can be an

informal conversation – you do not need to record it or take photographs unless the

person prefers to do so.)

-Identify and visit five social service agencies in the area and learn about their

services. You are to enter each of these agencies without an appointment. As you visit

the agencies, imagine that you are a client seeking services there (do not pretend you are

a client and misrepresent yourself to personnel at the agency; this is unethical – just make

mental notes about how you would feel as a client.) For example, you can observe where

the agency is located; whether it is accessible and easily identifiable; whether signage is

in English, Spanish or both; whether the front of the building and the waiting area are

welcoming; how the staff respond to visitors; and what types of materials are available

about the agency’s services.

-Talk with at least one service provider at one of the agencies, asking the same

question you asked the community resident (community strengths and challenges).

-Complete an in-depth follow-up interview with a program director or agency

director (not a direct practice social worker) from one of the agencies you identified (see

list of questions to ask in Community Treasure Hunt Paper Template). You will need to

contact that person and schedule an appointment, so be sure you allow enough time to

complete the interview before your assignment is due. You can send questions you want

to ask to the person in advance if you wish. Be sure you follow up with a thank you note

after the person has taken the time to meet with you.

-Be safe and smart (don’t go to a strange area at night or when it is dark/raining, but

don’t be afraid!) If children can live in the community you are visiting, you need to be

able to visit it. If you must, take a friend to accompany you.

-Gather relevant demographic information about your community. Review the

PowerPoint presentation included under Week 2 of the course materials that gives you

information about how to gather and display demographic information. Access relevant

information through Facts Finder/Census Bureau, such as population, ethnic/racial

breakdown, household income, average cost per home.

Lastly, your paper:

You must write a 10-page paper answering the specific questions listed in the Community Treasure Hunt

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