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New Client Advisory Board Gives Platform to Those Served by Health Outreach Program

Client-Advisory-Board Outreach and Health Ministry Program Client Advisory Board members attend a meeting at The Night Ministry’s headquarters.

This summer, The Night Ministry launched a Client Advisory Board for those served by its Outreach and Health Ministry Program, which brings health care, supportive services, and resources directly to people who are unhoused. Client Advisory Board members are recipients of the program's services who wish to provide feedback and gather information on helpful local resources to share with their peers and the agency.

The group meets weekly with Client Leadership Development Specialist Candace Musick, who also co-runs Youth 4 Truth, the agency's leadership program for Youth Programs participants.

"When there are projects going on or program expansions that impact our clients, they should have a voice at the table. That's why we established the Client Advisory Board: to make sure those served by our Outreach and Health Ministry Program are feeling heard and that our services are translating in the way that we want them to," explained Musick.

Each member adds value through their individual insight and perspective. "They come from such different backgrounds and bring such a variety of life experiences that each participant is coming at the problem of homelessness from a unique angle. When they share the knowledge they've gained from lived experience, it will have a vital impact on how we serve Chicago's unhoused citizens," said Case Manager Stephannie Schreiber, who helped refer many of the group's members.

Members determine the types of projects they would like to take on. And they are paid an hourly rate for their time, expertise, leadership, and service to the agency. The Night Ministry also provides them with referrals to other paid opportunities and helps them build job skills.

"We're trying to get something done. We've got a bunch of ideas: big, small, and everything in between," said Marshall, a member of the Advisory Board and a client of The Night Ministry's CTA program, which serves individuals who ride the city's public transit for shelter.

"They feel a commitment and a sense of responsibility to getting their ideas off the ground. They're drawing upon their own experiences, good and bad, to help other people that are in situations like what they've been through so that they don't have to figure things out on their own," Musick shared. 

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