Editor’s note: In the second in our series of Q&As on Doing Things Differently, we spoke with Ryan dela Rosa, a Pathways support worker with Community Living Brant. We inquire into the new ways in which Community Living Brant teams are engaging and collaborating with the community and each other to foster strong and connected communities. We explore the creative thinking that brings energy to the complexity of being and doing in community.

 

What are some of the new ways of doing things that you have been seeing within your team or within Community Living Brant?

Since I started working here, the agency as a whole has taken the approach of fostering partnerships and collaboration with other organizations and connecting the resources available in our community. We figure working with everyone will make everything a lot easier, rather than trying to do everything on our own. We’ve teamed up with a lot of people.

The Pathways Program partnered up with St. Leonard’s and we do an outreach program with the community. So not necessarily people we support but anyone that’s struggling with homelessness and addictions on the streets. That’s been really cool.

What is the most inspiring thing you’ve experienced while working?

My daily supports or day-to-day routines with people and connecting with people. And I find the outreach program with St. Leonard’s pretty inspiring – they’ve opened up a lot of doors with other organizations in the community.

Can you share a specific story or success that you felt inspired by?

Handing out harm reduction kits for people that are using drugs. Just the first day of going out meeting people that suffer from homelessness and addictions was what was inspiring. We had conversations with people, got peoples’ names, learned a bit about their story. They didn’t really trust us at first, because we were just meeting them. But everyone’s got a name, everyone’s got a story. They didn’t just choose to be homeless. That was eye opening for myself and a lot of people I work with.

How do you feel collaboration and connection influence your team’s ability to navigate complex issues?

I wouldn’t say it makes it easier necessarily because it seems that everyone that we work with runs into the same barriers. But we are able to connect with people who have taken other avenues around those barriers or are trying to get through those barriers in ways we may not have thought of. Everyone seems to come and hit that same spot where we’re thinking, “what do we do now?” But collaboration means we try routes that we wouldn’t originally have tried with without talking to anyone.

No one is doing anything on their own. It’s nice to know that there are like-minded people in our community who are working toward the same goals.

How do you find that impacts the community?

As a whole, it’s great. More people are becoming aware of the resources in town and people know that they’re not alone. So it makes the work environment a lot easier. We feel that we can reach out to everyone that we’ve partnered up with.

What are you seeing that you’d like to see more of?

We’re working on the housing issues that are going on in our community right now. Obviously affordable housing isn’t as “affordable” as it sounds in the title. I joined a summit a week ago and there were multiple people there, I think over 50 people. We all have the same issue: affordable housing isn’t affordable and we’re trying to figure that piece out.

What are some actions that could be taken to move in that direction?

In the summit we talked about certain people we have to approach in our city council. I think other than talking about it we have to take that step forward and approach those people in order to get the ball rolling.

What do you feel is the best thing that could happen?

The best thing that could happen is if no one was homeless. I know it’s not realistic but it’s a dream that a lot of people have. Everyone deserves to have a roof over their head and the chance to persevere in life. It’s really hard when you don’t have a place to go to sleep and rest your head at night. So providing that feeling of safety is important.

What do you feel would become possible if that became a reality?

Anything! The number one objective is affordable housing but once people are in that housing, who knows what people will want to do or what they’ll be able to do. So we start with housing and it’ll grow from there.

Is there anything you haven’t said that you feel you’d like to add?

No one is doing anything on their own. It’s nice to know that there are like-minded people in our community who are working toward the same goals.

 

Lead photo cutline: Ryan dela Rosa is pictured standing in front of Community Living Brant.

 

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