Director Responds to Customer Comments

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the comments collected through the interview process. I am very proud of the VOA (Volunteers of America) Emergency Shelter program and the services we offer. The following are responses to the comments faxed to me.

VOA is a sober environment with proper referrals made on a case-by-case basis for those under the influence.

The shelter opens at 4:00pm and unemployed clients have until 7:00pm to enter the facility.

The Transitional Living Program (TLP) is a separate program located in the same facility. VOA has strict Conflict of Interest procedures that staff members are aware of at the time of hire. If favoritism exists, it is against VOA policy and will not be tolerated.

The Emergency Shelter (ES) Program is a different program from TLP.

We do not, as of yet, offer state certified substance abuse treatment, nor do we claim to. Extensions and exceptions are always made for the client that is verifiably attempting to overcome the obstacles that got him into our facility. Emergency Shelter (ES) clients are offered two meals per day: breakfast and dinner.

This is the environment we hope to provide. (Staff is extremely helpful). This (cleanliness) is the environment we hope to provide. Wake up is at 6:00am. Requests can be made for earlier wake up (employment, etc.).

(Clients must be in by 7:00pm) Also, a 1:00a.m. curfew exists for those employed (w/ verification).

The lobby is the entrance of the facility and is the only designated smoking area.

We give assistance of clothing as well as blankets, sleeping bags, towels, toiletries, shoes, underwear, socks, furniture, etc. We attempt to fill all basic needs of shelter, clothing and food.

Part of the referral process (education) if requested and/ or noted.

We hope that people feel a part of the helping environment.

Additionally, we employ an intake Technician for the shelter program that keeps progress notes on all shelter clients as well as providing referrals. All clients must attend an orientation within the first seven days of their admission to answer common questions and provide additional information about the facility(the orientation is held twice during the week to provide convenience to the client). We provide clean linens, towels, and toiletry kits to all new admissions. Clients are provided with a television in their living area and we readily provide magazines, newspapers and books.

Our TLP is vital in providing the continuum of care that is the goal of our facility. Clients involved in the TLP are provided with case management, Employment Counseling, and a broad array of referrals for additional needs. The goal of that 12-month program is permanent housing. During our last fiscal year (7/1/96 –6/30/97), 86% of our clients were coming from an emergency shelter.

Lastly, we have a Street Outreach Counselor who specifically works with the homeless on the street in order to provide information regarding not only our programs, but programs in general that benefit the homeless community. His work is vital and your publication has highlighted that position in the past.

Again, thanks for the opportunity to respond to the comments listed on your fax. Our Emergency Shelter program and Transitional Living Program are two very distinct programs with different funding sources and different staff members. We are proud of our facility and encourage you to visit at any time to view our program for yourself, no prior notice is necessary.

Respectfully,

Richard Kirk

Director of Homeless Services

Volunteers of America

Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland, Ohio Issue 26 April 1998