Sunday, April 19, 2009

Refugee Stuff: --Running a Furniture Program --organizational structure(s)

This is a document prepared for use at the furniture program. It was created after a couple months working in the furniture program.

As stated, there were several problems in the program. This document was designed to help facilitate goals and achieve them while bringing some of the problems which existed at that time into the open.

I feel it did this with some success although (allegedly due to budget cuts) I was soon dismissed from my position and replaced by a volunteer college intern.

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FURNITURE AND HOUSING PROGRAM MEETING


Greetings! On Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 7:00pm there will be a meeting to discuss and clarify goals, procedures, needs and other matters related to the USCRI furniture program. The purpose of the meeting will be to identify and clarify these goals and needs and then develop constructive means in which to work towards achieving them within current parameters.


The meeting is intended to be small and is, essentially, open to either USCRI staff or by invitation to people who have had involvement with the furniture program.

Primary purpose is clarification of goals, needs and realistic procedures to meet these needs and achieve these goals. A written record of the meeting will be kept and provided to

An underlying premise of the meeting is that the USCRI furniture program is intended to help address the material needs of the refugees we serve in an efficient and economical manner, while handling donations in a manner that provides for the refugees served while presenting a positive image of USCRI to the public, including donors, potential donors and businesses and not-for-profits that we work with to achieve our goals. Although the Housing Coordinator is also supposed to handle housing needs, i.e. finding apartments, this has not been done. This will be one of several issues discussed.



INTRODUCTION TO THE HOUSING PROGRAM AND HOUSING COORDINATOR POSITION

The Housing Coordinator is in charge of the following:

1. Processing and receiving donations of material goods.
2. Delivering large quantities of donated goods in usable condition to the refugees.
3. Delivering small quantities of donated goods in usable condition to the refugees.
4. Purchasing low-cost furniture when necessary.
5. Finding Housing.
6. Picking and delivering materials for use in the office.

THIS MEETING WILL FOCUS ON IMPROVING THE FIRST TWO AREAS,
 Processing and receiving donations of material goods.
 Delivering donated goods in usable condition to the refugees.

The third area will resolve itself if systems are put in place to improve the first two areas.

THE LAST TWO ITEMS ARE SIMPLY NOT HAPPENING WITHIN THE CURRENT SYSTEM.
 Finding Housing.
 Picking and delivering materials for use in the office.

Although there are undoubtedly areas of area #4, purchasing low-cost furniture, that could be improved it is suggested that this area be ignored for the following meeting. The problems that do exist hinge primarily on poor information gathering and processing requiring in a continuous series of emergency decisions that could better be handled in a slower, more systematic manner.

It is hoped that problems will not just be identified, but solutions will also be suggested.

Volumes of goods and people to be served and processed can and should also be discussed throughout the meeting. (There is a very large problem in this area.)

There are, quite frankly, problems from top to bottom that need to be addressed. (USCRI-Albany does not, for instance, have any systematic procedure in place to dispose of bulky trash and therefore it piles up in the storeroom. Nor does it have anyone who is addressing the problem or who will communicate about addressing the problem )

Ways to work within the current system to address these needs will also be discussed.


PROCESSING AND RECEIVING DONATIONS OF MATERIAL GOODS.

This is a multi-step process and it can be seriously improved at each and every step. However, these steps must be coordinated or we will have problems.

1. Solicitation of donations.


2. Coordinating and processing requests to donate items. (Including refusing requests.)


3. A coordinated drop-off procedure for people who can bring in donations by themselves.


4. Picking up donations.

This is a complex operation and involves several steps.

1. Recruiting and retaining qualified volunteers.
2. Acquiring use of a vehicle.
3. Planning routes and times for pick-ups.
4. Coordination with Arnoff’s to use the freight elevator.



5. Storage of items in a manner so that they can be kept in good condition and then found and used as needed.


THERE ARE PROBLEMS IN ALL THESE AREAS.


DELIVERING DONATED GOODS IN USABLE CONDITION TO THE REFUGEES.

This requires several steps.

1. Awareness of a need by the Housing Coordinator.

This requires that someone within USCRI-Albany be aware of the need and then communicate the need to the Housing Coordinator including all relevant information.

Problems exist throughout this area.

This applies to both existing clients as well as new arrivals.

2. The need needs to be assessed and then compared with what we have on hand or can easily acquire.


3. The items then need to be delivered to the clients in a useable condition.

This requires use of a suitable vehicle and two people qualified to deliver it.


4. The items then need to be assembled and explained to the clients.

This often requires translation.

5. It is an extremely common occurrence that during this process problems with the apartment are identified and communication with the landlord or their agent needs to happen.


THERE ARE PROBLEMS IN ALL THESE AREAS.


DELIVERING SMALL QUANTITIES OF DONATED GOODS IN USEABLE CONDITION TO THE REFUGEES.

This requires several steps.

1. Awareness of a need by the Housing Coordinator.

This requires that someone within USCRI-Albany be aware of the need and then communicate the need to the Housing Coordinator including all relevant informnation.

This applies primarily to existing clients.

2. The need needs to be assessed and then compared with what we have on hand or can easily acquire.


3. The items then need to be delivered to the clients in a usable condition.


4. The items then need to be assembled and explained to the clients.

Although there are problems in this area, they are not as serious as when I arrived.




 FINDING HOUSING.



 PICKING AND DELIVERING MATERIALS FOR USE IN THE OFFICE.

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