Social Justice and Voice at Bethany Hill Place
At Bethany Hill Place we often think about social justice in terms of voice. Oftentimes people who are marginalized – like the homeless, those who have been victims of domestic violence, and those who have struggled with addiction/mental illness – aren’t heard in their communities.
We know many of our residents have experienced their voice being dismissed and we want to make sure they are heard. How do we ensure we are hearing every resident’s voice? How are we hearing the voices of quiet residents? Whose voice is missing? Our community’s strength rests in setting these voices free and giving us all the space to co-exist.
The Bethany Hill Place Education Advisory Committee is made up of residents who meet three times a year to give input about the programming we offer. We welcome the positive and negative feedback residents have and adjust our programming based on these conversations. These meetings include our Board members, bringing residents in contact with and on equal footing with those in positions of power and authority, offering them the opportunity to exercise leadership and agency in their own lives.
Other residents feel more comfortable expressing themselves in writing and are able to use our newsletter, The Pulse, as a platform to be heard. They write about their experiences at Bethany Hill Place, but also feel comfortable sharing about their sobriety, families, and achievements. Some of our folks feel more at ease in an informal setting, which they find at our community building events throughout the year. At these events residents share ideas and ask questions publically and in small groups of residents. Many residents feel most comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas one-on-one and we make space for this with our regular education goal meetings and check-ins. All new residents initially meet with staff to be welcomed and receive information about our community, but more importantly, we ask and listen carefully to find out what they want and how we can help them achieve it.
Our programming grows, our residents grow, and Bethany Hill Place grows. We want to make sure the growth is guided by the needs and wants of the people who live in our community. While hearing the voices of our residents is a boon for our community, we also know that using and practicing their voices is an energizing and vital part of all residents’ time at BHP.
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