What if all the humans think alike and act similar? Well, you can wish for it, but it will never happen. The real world is much more diverse. Humans differ from one another vastly. Hence, communities, which comprise of small or large social units (groups of living things) that have something in common, such as norms, religion, values, or identity are vastly diverse. (En.wikipedia.org, 2018)
Hence, it’s imperative that you understand the community or the communities that you serve as an organization. The advantages of understanding the community are as follows.
- Each community has its own needs and assets, as well as its own culture and social structure comprising of a unique web of relationships, history, strengths, and conflicts that defines it. A community assessment helps to uncover not only needs and resources, but the underlying culture and social structure that will help you understand how to address the community’s needs and utilize its resources. (Ctb.ku.edu, 2018)
- It will help you make decisions about priorities for program or system improvement. It would obviously be foolhardy to try to address community issues without fully understanding what they are and how they arose. By the same token, failing to take advantage of community resources not only represents taking on a problem without using all the tools at your disposal to solve it, but misses an opportunity to increase the community’s capacity for solving its own problems and creating its own change. (Ctb.ku.edu, 2018)
- It goes a long way toward eliminating unpleasant surprises down the road. Identifying needs and resources before starting a program or initiative means that you know from the beginning what you’re dealing with, and are less likely to be blindsided later by something you didn’t expect. (Ctb.ku.edu, 2018)
What if you as an organization can’t serve the community? You will fail as the organizational goals and objectives can’t be achieved. Hence, it is of utmost importance to engage the community. Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well being of those people. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices (Atsdr.cdc.gov, 2018)
To create value in the services provided by an organization, community engagement merely is not adequate. The organization must be able to empower the community as well. Community empowerment refers to the process of enabling communities to increase control over their lives. (Who.int, 2018) In this process, data plays a paramount role. In fact, data has become one of the most powerful forces in problem solving. Effective use of data will act as a guiding light in the path of large scale change that can cater to the needs of communities. Who.int. (2018)
Ctb.ku.edu. (2018). Chapter 3. Assessing Community Needs and Resources | Section 1. Developing a Plan for Assessing Local Needs and Resources | Main Section | Community Tool Box. [online] Available at: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/develop-a-plan/main [Accessed 21 Sep. 2018].
En.wikipedia.org. (2018). Community. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community [Accessed 21 Sep. 2018].
Sites.google.com. (2018). Community – Jennifer Giron Class of 2015. [online] Available at: https://sites.google.com/site/jennifergironclassof2015/post-high-school-plan [Accessed 21 Sep. 2018].
Atsdr.cdc.gov. (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/communityengagement/pdf/PCE_Report_508_FINAL.pdf [Accessed 21 Sep. 2018].
Socioboard Blog. (2018). engage-your-community – Socioboard Blog. [online] Available at: https://blog.socioboard.com/6-instagram-marketing-tactics-to-use-in-2-hours/engage-your-community/ [Accessed 21 Sep. 2018].
Who.int. (2018). WHO | Track 1: Community empowerment. [online] Available at: http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/7gchp/track1/en/ [Accessed 21 Sep. 2018].
LEWIS (2018). The Big Picture, May 2015: The Power of Data – Rick Jones. [online] Slideshare.net. Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/LEWIS_PR/the-big-picture-may-2015-the-power-of-data-rick-jones [Accessed 21 Sep. 2018].
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