Outreach Advocacy Center and Homelessness in Atlanta

Introduction

Promoting change in a community is a challenging task that requires the integration of strong values, efficient leadership, and a coherent strategy. Aimed at addressing the problem of homelessness in Atlanta, the Central Outreach Advocacy Center has made a significant change to the specified community, being independent from its parent organization, the Central Presbyterian Church, yet borrowing a range of strategies from the specified organization to attain success in the downtown community.

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Mission and Vision

The mission of OAC can be described as promoting a positive change in the community by addressing the poverty issues through the rearrangement of the members’ goals, roles, and responsibilities. As the leaders of the Center explain, their organization aims at improving the key operations in the Atlanta setting through a positive change. It is quite remarkable that OAC views reinforcing the role of women in the community as one of its primary goals: “Women are active in all areas of leadership” (Central Outreach & Advocacy Center, 2015, par. 3). Thus, the organization addresses topical issues, such as the recent increase in the number of homeless people, by empowering as many members of the target population as possible to contribute to the improvement of the situation.

Membership and Service Meaning

The significance of membership and service in OAC is quite different from the one that the CPC has. While, in CPC, the emphasis lies primarily of the spiritual experience, OAC stresses the importance of becoming a decent member of the community and contributing to the latter correspondingly. In other words, whereas CPC offers a personal evolution, OAC promotes the idea of integrating into the society successfully.

Membership and Service Records

As the OAC standards for membership and service records say, detailed notes have to be taken by the corresponding members of the organization responsible for the organizational issues. Traditionally, the state treasurer is appointed for carrying out the recording process and the further analysis (Financial and membership records, 2015).

Administrative Structure

Seeing that OAC is a project of CPC, it is only reasonable to assume that the administrative structures of the two are quite similar. Indeed, an introspect on the operations carried out in the specified organizations will reveal that the two, in fact, share a number of similarities, such as a common leader and the same set of missions and values to adhere to. Therefore, the administrative structure of the organization resembles the one of CPC. Particularly, the principles of the congregational leadership, which is defined as the means of promoting transformative leadership principles in a church setting, are employed at OAC. It should be noted that the specified method of structuring the organization may possibly lead to serious conflicts within the organization. Because of the focus on the economic aspects of the organization’s functioning, which the adoption of the specified administrative tool presupposes, and the switch to a corporate system of management: “The idea that congregational leadership is a corporate function seems to be one of the most challenging concepts for pastors to accept” (Uitgeverij, 2012, p. 202), which congregational leadership involves, the spiritual values promoted at OAK with the help of CPC can be jeopardized. Therefore, as far as the structural issues are concerned, a stronger connection between the church and the organization, as well as the emphasis on the values of the church, need to be viewed as the essential steps towards making OAC stronger and more influential.

Financial Matters

From the financial perspective, the operations of OAC are aligned with the needs of the community and the principles that CPC is guided by. Seeing that the organization only follows the guidelines of CPC, yet does not need to receive orders concerning every single financial transaction carried out, OAC is capable of creating and conducting its own financial policy. In other words, the organization can be viewed as rather independent in terms of the allocation of the existing financial resources. On the one hand, the specified strategy is rather favorable for both OAC and the community, as the leaders of OAC are aware of the needs of the community residents to a greater degree than CPC. Therefore, OAK leaders can make better choices in terms of allocating the existing costs; more importantly, the approach in question can be viewed as a means to introduce the policy of sustainability to the community. On the other hand, the lack of control of CPC over the financial transactions of OAK makes the latter more vulnerable to the external factors.

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Information About Worship Attendance

OAK rules state that a group of fifteen people is formed for regular worship attendances (Central Outreach & Advocacy Center, 2015).

Procedure for Handling Grievances

The process of handling grievances is carried out in OAC in accordance with the standards of CPC.

Patterns of Decision Making

OAC makes its decisions based on both the principles set by CPC and the needs of the target denizens of Downtown’s population. The specified pattern for decision-making can be viewed as quite reasonable, as it needs both guidance from the maternal organization and the analysis of the factors that are specific to its mission, such as the changes in the local economy issues or financial policies.

Community

A recent statistical data has shown that the Downtown Community has been experiencing consistent growth (Central Outreach & Advocacy Center). The specified issue can be considered one of the leading causes of poverty and homelessness in the area, since the increase in the number of residents with no decent opportunities for education and work is the primary cause of unemployment and, therefore, homelessness.

Differences

A closer look at the information provided by the community monthly report and the objectives that the Central Outreach Advocacy Center has set will reveal that there is a large gap between the objectives of the Center and the actual situation in the community. According to the data provided in the monthly statistics, the community suffers a significant increase in the number of impoverished people (Central Outreach & Advocacy Center, 2015).

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In addition, the county statistics shows that the Downtown Community has been facing a significant drop in the per capita rates. As Fig. 1 (Appendix A) shows, the household income rates in the specified community are significantly lower than the median by 17.9%. One must admit, though, that the specified inconsistency in the OAC’s policy in the county is leveled out by the household income rates. The latter, in their turn, are significantly higher than the national average; as shown in Fig. 2 (Appendix A), the index of the household income in the specified county has reached $42,433, whereas the national average has made $34,770 (see Appendix A).

As far as the population growth in the community is concerned, the fact that the number of people living in the area is currently increasing clearly aligns with the center’s expectations. According to the community outreach program, OAC is planning to provide homeless people with shelters; however, the current population growth rates do not allow for facilitating every single denizen thereof with a place to live. Despite the above-mentioned discrepancies, the community is clearly progressing owing to the efforts that OAC puts into the implementation of its goals, particularly, the one concerning the provision of the local population with an opportunity to have a place to live.

Church and OAC

The endeavors of OAC described above are quite different from the traditional strategies used by the church and the related institutions. Particularly, the fact that OAC is aimed at eliminating the problem of homelessness deserves to be mentioned first (). In contrast to typical church activities, which are traditionally aimed at helping those in need and assisting the people, who have lost their homes, OAC actually aims at eradicating poverty in the community.

For instance, the Central Presbyterian Church, which addresses the needs of the target denizens of the population in Downtown Atlanta, provides the Central Night Shelter for the people, who have no specific location and, therefore, are forced to dwell in the streets. While the specified facility clearly is a generous offer from the church, as it needs to be funded extensively to provide the target denizens of the Atlanta population with the corresponding services, it still does not fix the problem, as it does not address its root cause. Particularly, the church only suggests a quick fix for the issue that is rooted deeply in the flaws of the state economy, financial policies, and political issues.OAC, in its turn, targets the very essence of the problem, as it promotes a different strategy for managing the rates of homelessness in the community. Particularly OAC promotes fighting homelessness and poverty by reducing the risks that trigger the specified problems. Particularly, the social and economic factors that lead to poverty are addressed by the Center.

Seeing that the organization’s mission concerns raising awareness on the issue of homelessness in the community ((Central Outreach & Advocacy Center, 2015), it is only reasonable to assume that the scope of its operations is broader than the one of the community church. Particularly, the organization addresses the needs of “individuals and families to assist them in avoiding or recovering from homelessness and to advocate on their behalf” (Central Outreach & Advocacy Center, 2015, par. 1). The local church, which caters to the needs of the homeless in the specified community, does not address the problem in a manner as efficient and direct as OAC does; instead, the Central Presbyterian Church provides the people in need services such as hot meal and a shelter, where they can spend the night, in two locations, which include the Central Night Shelter in Central Presbyterian and Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (One ministry – two locations, 2015, par. 1). Therefore, when it comes to defining the differences in the church policy and the one of the specified facility, the fact that the OAC organization invites more opportunities for the people suffering from poverty, as well as nips the problem in the bud, must be mentioned.

However, unlike the Central Presbyterian Church, OAC does not provide as many options for employment. Particularly, the organization promotes the concept of employment among the target denizens of the population, yet it does not technically offer any vacancies for the people suffering from unemployment and the related issues. The church, on the other hand, offers opportunities for the people, who do not have jobs currently.

Being a part of the Central Presbyterian Church, OAC follows the same model of decision-making; therefore, the organization shares a range of similarities with the Central Presbyterian Church (CPC) as far as the key stages of negotiation and making a specific choice are concerned. However, one must bear in mind that OC is the affiliate of the church and, therefore, cannot be controlled by the latter fully; as a result, the principles of leadership adopted by the head of the center are somewhat different than the ones that the church promotes. Consequently, certain stages of decision-making at OAC may be different from the ones that CPC views as essential to its operations.

Discussion

Despite the fact that there are certain discrepancies in the operations of OAC and the church that contributed to the creation of the organization, the influence of CPC on OAC is, nevertheless, very powerful. The fact that CPC controls the organization and gears its activities the right direction is evident seeing that OAC is powered by the same values and ideas that CPC heralds as its foundation. Particularly, the significance of compassion, assistance and communication is just as strong in OAC as it is in CPC.

When it comes to evaluating the changes that the activity of OAC has triggered in the traditional church setting, one must address the issue of leadership first. As it has been stressed above, the fact that the church is geared in a more practical, down-to-earth direction with the leadership of OAC cannot possibly be doubted, as the specified organization addresses a particular societal issue from a set of social, economic and financial avenues. Claiming that OAC has led the church to refuse to use of its traditional spiritual principles would be quite a stretch; however, the fact that OAC leads to a more practical evaluation of the issue and a more efficient location of the existing solutions can hardly be denied. On a more global level, the creation of OAC has contributed to the development of a more orderly and coherent leadership system in the CPC, since the integration of the OAC principles has allowed for controlling the processes that occur in the organization by coordinating the actions in the CPC and OAC. Therefore, ion an organizational level, the creation of the specified facility can be interpreted as a significant progress. The same can be said about the objectives of the organizations. Although eradicating poverty and providing shelters for homeless people is one of CPC’s goals, having a range of objectives, the church could not focus on the issue in question.

Conclusion

With the creation of OAC, the subject matter can be addressed in depth and on a regular basis; consequently, OAC serves its purpose perfectly. Although the creation of OAC may have triggered major changes in the design of the key processes in CPC, the specified step should clearly be viewed as a significant improvement and an essential tool for addressing the poverty issue.

Reference

Central Outreach & Advocacy Center. (2015). Mission. Web.

Financial and membership records. (2015). Web.

One ministry – two locations. (2015). Web.

Uitgeverij, E. B. P. (2012). Crossroads: An exploration of the emerging-missional conversation with a special focus on ‘missional leadership’ and its challenges for theological education. Washington, DC: Christian Education.

Appendix A

Community Statistics

Outreach Advocacy Center and Homelessness in Atlanta
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