At Urban Alliance, our Outreach effort is the lifeblood of the work we do. Rather than operating from a ‘come to us’ mindset, we engage our friends in their neighborhoods in an effort to earn the right to be heard. We understand that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Just as in our earliest days, our staff and volunteers dedicate time each week to Kalamazoo’s three core neighborhoods. This commitment allows Urban Alliance to consistently express value, build credibility, and assess the changing needs of our friends in real-time.
While Outreach serves the community in many ways, our current focus areas include Street Outreach, engaging our unhoused friends, and helping address the challenges surrounding group violence within Kalamazoo.
Street Outreach is an opportunity to build relationships with individuals as they are, where they are, and without expectations.
Its purpose is simply to care for people, rather than see them as broken and needing to be fixed.
In the colder months this often happens by ‘posting up’ near one of several local business partners where we provide we provide food, fellowship, conversation, and encouragement. In the warmer months, Outreach teams hit the streets, providing water, popsicles, and a constant reminder to our friends that we see them.
The frequency of our Outreach efforts is critical. We want people to know that we see them as friends and family, a vital part of who we are, and worthy of our time, talent, and treasure.
Outreach also puts great emphasis upon events such as Summer Block Parties, Safe Trunk or Treat, and holiday meals. Events such as these bring community organizations, churches, local businesses, and the neighborhood together. We see these as invaluable opportunities to cultivate a culture of collaboration as well as a space to grow a greater sense of unity.
Urban Alliance’s works to reduce Kalamazoo’s group violence and address the community trauma that has resulted from it.
Partnering with Gun Violence Intervention (GVI), Kalamazoo Public Safety, and Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy & Action in the Community (ISAAC), we intentionally build relationships with all affected parties of the violence disrupting the health of our city and its residents. This invaluable work extends into education and collaboration with City of Kalamazoo employees and individuals engaging in all aspects of work within our judicial system.
Our Outreach effort looks very different from Street Outreach, as our staff provides direct support for Custom Notifications; visits to homes, hospitals, and jails; and the development of pipelines to supportive services, both within Urban Alliance and to other community partners.
Urban Alliance strives to ensure that every individual feels valued and knows that their voice is heard.
Outreach to our unhoused friends is an opportunity to establish trust by meeting individuals where they are and walking alongside them. Our friends living within the encampments know that they can count on Urban Alliance staff and volunteers as we step in where we can to help individuals navigate resources in a way that makes them feel like a person and not just a case number.
Urban Alliance provides consistent contact and works to address an assortment of needs, both physical and emotional. When our friends are ready, we attempt to connect them to appropriate resources, eliminating barriers along the way. Sometimes the best way to help someone is by simply showing up, week after week, come rain, snow, or sunshine. That is the way Urban Alliance approaches relationships.