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Community organizers work for government agencies and nonprofit organizations to help underserved populations solve problems in their neighborhoods and workplaces. Organizers also help clients get access to needed social services. If the problem affects the community overall, the organizer must define the relevant issues, and what resources exist to solve them. The work may require putting in nights and weekends beyond a regular full-time schedule.
Education and Assistance
One of a community organizer's duties is to help clients or communities determine what kind of help is needed to deal with a particular issue. He assists clients in filling out paperwork for assistance programs, for example, or help determine their eligibility for services such as food stamps and Medicaid. At other times, the organizer acts as a liaison between his employer and the client that he serves.
Problem solving is a major part of a community organizer's job, which is why they're sometimes called social and human research assistants. Frequently, this requires crafting campaigns to prod action on issues affecting underserved communities. For example, the Association of Communities Organized for Reform Now followed this approach after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Through repeated visits to city and national officials, ACORN members succeeded in getting additional funding to restore ruined neighborhoods.
Investigation and Research
Before initiating a campaign, the organizer must determine how local resources are currently used. State or federal agencies may already have plans that address local concerns. Similarly, the organizer contacts other local groups and political officials to avoid creating action plans that duplicate existing programs and resources. He then shares his findings with the community.
- The U.S. Department of State: IIP Digital: What Do Community Organizers Do?
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social and Human Service Assistants: What They Do
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social and Human Service Assistants: Work Environment
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Getting Started
Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.
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