Friend, Inc. unites local organizations for widespread community needs assessment survey

Friend, Inc. volunteers stand by to assist parishioners of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Kutztown in completing survey. Alexis Conkle, a Kutztown University masters social work student, and Caleb Baukman, KU honors bachelors social work student, are interns for Kutztown Strong.
Friend, Inc. volunteers stand by to assist parishioners of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Kutztown in completing survey. Alexis Conkle, a Kutztown University masters social work student, and Caleb Baukman, KU honors bachelors social work student, are interns for Kutztown Strong. Submitted photo

Friend, Inc. is a multi-service nonprofit organization committed to supporting the well-being of families and individuals living in Northeastern Berks County.

In an effort to better understand the needs of those they serve, Friend, Inc. set a goal to survey their broad service area in 2018. That goal found unity amongst other local organizations: Kutztown University, Kutztown Strong and the school districts of Kutztown, Brandywine Heights, and Fleetwood. All have missions similar to Friend, Inc. as they promote the overall health and well-being of community, family, young adults and children.

Often, rural areas remain without services that might improve residents’ life circumstance as their sparse populations make it appear as if there is less need in comparison to more densely populated urban locations. In combining the data from all three communities, the team hopes to paint a more accurate picture for legislators, funders, and grantors as future efforts are undertaken to expand or develop services for these local communities and their constituents.

Team efforts created the survey to assess any unmet needs community members experience in terms of health services, mental health services, job trainings, transportation, elderly services, after-school programs and activities, education, and financial barriers.

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Study results will be shared amongst the team’s organizations in order to evaluate current services and to assist in the strategic development of future programming and services. Ultimately, the goal is to better serve our local communities using one survey assessment to inform the decision-making and strategic planning processes of all the participating organizations.

School superintendents from all three school districts made survey participation possible for the households of their students by sharing the web link (list below) via their announcement systems prior to the end of the school year. Volunteers from Friend, Inc., Kutztown University, and Kutztown Strong will be working together over the course of the summer to administer the survey in local venues like churches, senior living centers, and rural community centers across the boroughs and townships Friend, Inc. serves.

The organizations welcome and encourage participation from all adult residents living within the Kutztown, Brandywine Heights, and Fleetwood school districts. If you have not already completed the survey, please take a few minutes to access the survey and inform the positive development of your community. Fill out survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/mycommunity2018.

Friend, Inc. serves constituents across the Kutztown, Brandywine Heights, and Fleetwood school districts by providing client-choice pantry services, information and referrals, budget counseling, and assistance for those experiencing financial difficulties.