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Bayou Grace Community Services (BGCS) establishes productive networks and collaborations to facilitate community outreach, implement strategic programming and unite residents in a collective voice and approach to community sustainability. Social, economic and environmental factors have led to increased and unnatural rates of devastation throughout the rural Native American, African American, and Cajun/French communities in the five bayous communities in Lower Terrebonne Parish, LA. The community's daily reality is severely impacted by lack of opportunity and resources along with the fiercely deteriorating coastline, this even prior to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. BGCS recognizes that many debilitating concerns can be addressed with outreach and programming related to primary medical care, addictive disorders, education and sustainable housing and economic opportunity. BGCS expands on strategic programming and outreach by facilitating healthy dialogue among community and connecting these community members to local, regional and national opportunities where community can voice concern for and work to sustain the continued existence of their community
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAMS 1. Community Organizing: The BGCS Director works to create active partnerships among area non-profit leaders. The Bayou Community Organizers have identified five issues that are of common concern:
Organizational Development Literacy/Education Attainment
Environment: Coastal Erosion, Toxic Land Conditions, etc.Economic Opportunity Sustainable Housing
The Bayou Community Organizers continue to organize and create a plan of action to continue to affect the five issues of concern. 2. Family Advocacy (Mental-health assessment and outreach): The BGCS Family Advocate continually works with individuals and families to understand the root of socially-based emotional issues of concern. Lack of opportunities and access to services within the five bayous has been identified as a source of much concern among residents. Consequently, the Family Advocate has and continues to work to implement and continually build and/or research the feasibility of the a. BGCS/Project Learn GED Program (began 7/07) b. Resource Center for continuing education opportunities (Now working to implement) c. Skilled-based trainings (researching the feasibility of)
3. Construction: The BGCS Construction Manager, Volunteer Coordinator and team work with out of state volunteers to help implement sustainable housing options for residents in the five bayous. The BGCS Family Advocate and staff network with the family and other area agencies to help secure housing opportunities and funding for building materials. BGCS continues to implement repair/rebuild. Starting in 2008, BGCS will focus heavily on new home construction.
4. Environmental Outreach: The Environmental Outreach Liaison, now fulfilled by the Director, builds and expands on existing environmental-related partnerships in the effort to educate and mobilize local community and out of state volunteers on wetland loss and the affect it is has on the local population.
5. Community Wellness Advocacy (Medical outreach): The Community Wellness Advocate conducts informative and preventative medical health outreach within the bayou communities, and builds relationships with those community members who are in need of medical services and works to connect them to service providers.
- Courtney Howell
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