Outreach simply means bringing information to individuals who may not have access to it otherwise. Marin Mobile Care not only relies on staff for outreach, but much like Downtown Streets Team, peer-to-peer outreach helps reach the most number of individuals who would benefit from our services.
Marin Mobile Care’s showers are one entry point of many in Marin County that work toward getting our unsheltered neighbors into the Coordinated Entry System. Coordinated Entry is a successful strategy used by services throughout Marin County since last summer to end chronic homelessness. This program places the most vulnerable populations into permanent supportive housing. Read more about it on the City of San Rafael site at https://www.cityofsanrafael.org/coordinated-entry-working/
Where do we go to do Outreach?
Marin Mobile Care visits designated areas known to be popular sites for our unsheltered neighbors and introduces ourselves to those who are occupying that area.
When we arrive at a campsite during outreach, we identify ourselves and explain that we are there to share information about Marin Mobile Care’s showers, Downtown Streets Team, and information about other services available depending on the individual’s needs.
Typically, our unsheltered neighbors are very welcoming and interested in hearing about the information and services we have to offer. However, there are times when we see building trust will take time. Many individuals living outside are in survival mode and are very weary of strangers who approach them. Because of this, it is imperative to take the time to establish this basis for trust. Every visit plants the seeds of a relationship and trust, and we estimate it takes an average of 6-8 interactions with someone to build that trust.
We have seen the benefits of outreach first hand as the majority of people who have become shower guests hear about it through our outreach efforts. One day, our team went into the Hamilton Marsh because we heard about a woman who was living in four inches of water. We could hear her, but we couldn’t see her. Upon identifying ourselves and the services we provide, she poked her head out of the tent.
We gave her a card and offered a hygiene kit, which increased her interest in what we were doing. We explained the showers program and that she would be very welcome. The next day, that woman came to the showers and she hasn’t missed a day since. The showers have restored her dignity and helped her trust a service again.
As a result of making contact with us, she joined the Novato Downtown Streets Team and has been thriving, reaching goals toward self-sufficiency, and improving the Novato community.
Working with other service providers
We also do outreach by sharing our information through emails and flyers to other service providers such as Ritter, St. Vincent de Paul, Marin Community Clinics and many others. We exchange information with our community partners so that any individuals we come in contact with as much resource knowledge as possible.
Outreach is not just for service providers, but something everyone can do. It’s about spreading the word and helping those experiencing homelessness become more aware of the available services.