Samaritan and Lazarus Mentor Team Guidelines
During each conversation with a Participant, Mentors should recognize that 80 percent of all interpersonal communication is either listening or nonverbal. Many Participants have survived adverse circumstances simply by reading others’ nonverbal cues. You need to be careful about the nonverbal message you are conveying to your Participants. Shake hands with the Participant, use the Participant’s name, and maintain eye contact with the Participant. This demonstrates that you care and are truly listening to the Participant.
Ask enough questions to let the Participant know that you are willing to invest time to hear what the Participant wants to share. You may be surprised to see how open the Participant becomes—simply because you are the first person willing to listen to him/her. Don’t be afraid to ask about the Participant’s emotional and spiritual health. You may ask “How do you see God working in your situation?” Many Participants do rely on God. We can all learn from the stories they tell. You may share your own stories about your walk with God.
Registration and Intake
An important aspect of your initial conversation with a Participant—during registration and intake—is the Participant’s response to your question, “How do you want your life to be different?” This helps the Participant to begin thinking about her hopes (goals) and the next steps to make that hope a reality. From the beginning, the Participant needs to define how she wants to improve her life. This helps you focus on the appropriate employment and social resources that the Participant needs to take her next steps.
The registration and intake conversation draws out several aspects of the Participant’s life. Many things may be going on in her life, and some of these things may be obstacles. Next Steps is a holistic program that seeks to identify health, family life, substance abuse, dependent children, co-habitant adults, support mechanisms, and other issues that may surface when people want to make changes in their lives. You should encourage the Participant to be open in discussing these matters. Be caring and encouraging, e.g., discuss the Participant’s priorities in terms of “Which life changing goals are most important and which goals do we need to focus on first?”
Many first-time Participants in the Next Step Program may be unemployed or not earning a living wage. They often may have other, more urgent problems, that complicate their job search. You will need to work with Participants facing a variety of challenges and help them think through obtaining assistance such a government benefits, health care, housing, legal advice, substance abuse treatment, school registration, etc. Typical next steps in social services might be a collection of: Register child for school, Attend three AA meetings, Get a physical exam, and Fill out a food assistance application form.
Goals and Next Steps
You and the Participant will likely find that you need to work together on more than one goal at a time. Begin by breaking down each goal into manageable, achievable next steps. At some point in your conversation, encourage the Participant to write her list of goals and next steps, rather than just telling you about them. This is the first step in helping the Participant to become a problem solver and develop her self-confidence.
The next steps, under each goal, that you and Participant develop together should be as small and measurable as possible. Many Participants come into the Next Step Program feeling like failures and/or don’t have an idea of what it feels like to be successful. For example, a Participant may need a photo ID because she never owned a car and never needed a driver’s license; or her license was stolen. To obtain a photo ID, she will need to prove where she was born. Therefore, her next step may be to write to the department of vital statistics in the State in which she was born to receive a copy of her birth certificate. An alternate next step might be to learn to use the Internet to get this information—this is an especially good next step if the Participant has never worked on a computer. Many better-paying jobs call for some level of computer proficiency. Why not start developing those skills now?
Another Participant may need to develop a resume but, for the time being, he may simply need to take inventory of what he has actually done over a period of time. This might be the first time he actually sees that he has had some useful work experience. For example, if in prison for five years, he may have cooked breakfast for 200 people daily and/or ordered food for the prison weekly. This ex-offender might not previously have thought to list his former prison as an employer—and suddenly he realizes that he can get a job in restaurant management—and he discovered it!
Take Comprehensive and Readable Handwritten Notes
By your handwriting notes on the pre-printed Participant Registration & Intake Form, your initial conversation with the Participant will help you (and other Mentors) identify her strengths as well as the problems that underlie her joblessness and/or other needs. For example, is the problem: inadequate skills, substance abuse, or lack of dependable child care? You write down the Participant’s employment history. This will help you determine what the Participant did well in the past and what she dreams about doing in the future.
Together, the Participant and you identify the next steps which will move the Participant toward employment. Typical next steps might be: obtain an identification card, get a haircut, or find phone numbers for references. You write this on the Participant Registration & Intake Form (initial visit), or the Participant/Samaritan Mentor Visit Form (subsequent visits), and the Employment and Social Services Referral Form (all visits). Whether the Participant is seeking a photo ID or developing a resume—it involves steps. Therefore, it is very important that the you keep track of each Participant’s next steps by writing detailed notes. The Participant’s original Registration and Intake Form is available to you, or any other Mentor. This form contains confidential information and is kept under lock and key by the Next Step Program Director. But it is always available to a Mentor as s/he works to help a Participant take his/her next steps.
Working with Participants Over Time
There are numerous forms, e.g., 12-Step Meeting Log Form, Budget Analysis Form, Daily Job Search Log Form, Individual Development Plan Checklist, Job Placement Log Form, and Reference Checklist Form that you will use over time (weeks, months, and years) to help Participants maintain a record of their employment-related activities. These are all found under “Resources/Forms” on www.NextStepsSC.org. The Next Step Program Director should keep all these hand-written records under lock and key. Part of the information on these forms will be transcribed in the Outcomes section of the Charity Tracker Plus Database at www.SouthCarolinaMinistries.org. Mentors will work with the Database Management Team to decide which information to transcribe into the Database. If it is relevant to the Participant’s next steps, include it; if not, don’t include it.
Through these ongoing conversations, week after week, month after month, and year after year; you and other Mentors will provide your Participants the moral support that will play a vital role in them making positive changes in their life.
Next Steps of South Carolina is indebted to Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (www.samaritanministry.org ), Lazarus Ministry of Christ Episcopal Church, Alexandria, VA (www.historicchristchurch.org), and The Cooperative Ministry, Columbia, SC (www.coopmin.org) for allowing us to pattern our Next Step Program after their successful ministries.
(Last modified 1/5/2015)