Reaction Tuesday: “Local nonprofit health provider interested in mall”

The article “Local nonprofit health provider interested in mall” was written in the Montgomery Advertiser.  “Bernell Mapp, CEO of Health Serv­Ices, Inc., said the nonprofit health pro­vider would like to occupy about 40,000 square feet in the planned medical mall.  Health Services offers primary health care and preventive health serv­ices to the insured as well as the unin­sured.” (To read the entire article, click here)

Health Services, Inc. is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving the people of Montgomery County who may be underinsured or uninsured.  Their mission is to improve access to care – very similar to HealthNet, Inc. here in Indianapolis.

The article touches on the possibility of Health Services, Inc. becoming part of a medical mall on the southside of Montgomery County.  And, I will have to agree with the idea of starting a medical mall.

  • ” She [Lynn Beshear, the exec director for a community group in Montgomery County] said the data indicated a large number of medically under-served Montgomerians in that area.” – The fact of having an FQHC be the cornerstone of a medical mall is headed in the right direction.  The point of increasing access to more providers would be washed away if there wasn’t a presence of providers who could care for the uninsured.
  • “Other possible tenants are hearing aid retailers, phar­macies, eye doctors, medical supply rentals, eateries and even a fitness center, Be­shear said.” – Health care needs to turn more to the idea of having providers work together rather than separately.  Housing all of these tenants in one area will help with collaboration and treatment of the whole person.
Photo by compujeramy.

Montgomery County, Alabama is on the right track with the medical mall, and I hope itdevelops to show positive results.  It would be a definite turning point in the way that health care is provided, particularly in underserved areas.

That is probably the point I agree with most – having plenty of different providers in one spot to increase access to care. Especially, especially, especially in underserved areas where SO MANY patients miss appointments for various reasons but MAINLY transportation reasons.

Housing all of these providers into one location with a health center leading the way is a fantastic idea!


What do you think of this idea?
Do you think providers are better when housed in one area?
Or, do you think each of them being in different places will allow more intensive care?
Share your thoughts in the comment section.


How to be an Effective Advocate on the Individual Level

Since my very first post, I have written about many different things that I have been learning.  Whether it be through experiences I have had or in an educational setting, I have learned a ton in what has almost been a full year at HealthNet, Inc.  In my post today, I hope to share some of the knowledge I have gained while also holding myself accountable.

I need to practice what I preach!!

Just over the past six months, I have grown an interest in advocacy (hey, I started blogging about it!).  Over that period, I have asked, met, and learned from many other advocates who have been doing it a lot longer than I have.  So, I wanted to share some main points I have gathered and put into my personal advocacy strategy.

Stay Informed

I spoke about this in greater detail in my post from Monday, but the main thing is to stay informed on the specific statistics and facts that back up the importance for what you are advocating.  For example: If someone should ask how many homeless persons there are in Indy, then you should be confident enough to give an approximate answer while promising to follow-up with the resource backing up your statistic.
[National Association of Community Health Centers, National Alliance to End Homelessness]

Know the Rules

There are no rules for the amount or to what extent you can advocate on ANY subject because the definition of advocating is simply informing others about the significance of an organization or cause.  The time when rules come in are with lobbying, the ‘L’ word!!  And with this, the two Golden Rules are that your non-profit organization can NOT use federal or state grant money to fund lobbyists, and you can not endorse a politician on behalf of your organization.  Otherwise, lobby and advocate at will!!
[A great article on this subject: Advocacy vs. Lobbying from MCCOYouth)

Build Advocacy into your Schedule

Make time each day for advocacy.  Whether it is simply blocking out a quick 15 minutes to ask yourself what you can do to stay informed, or blocking out an hour to call, email, fax a letter, and schedule a meeting with a legislator or their staffperson!

Present facts, along with opinions

Opinions are great, our opinions as advocates are the internal driving force for our advocacy.  If I didn’t have the opinion and belief that people have the RIGHT to shelter and health care, then I wouldn’t be doing what I do.  But, we all become EFFECTIVE when we have statistics that back up our opinions.

Get to know your officials

Knowing your officials and legislators backgrounds – where they are from, what did they do before office, which committees are they on – will help A TON.  Being familiar with someone will help you to create conversation and connections on a personal level with official and their staff.  Being familiar with each other makes advocacy much more personal and not seem like you are a salesperson and they are a potential buyer.
[Congressional Biographical Directory]


DO THESE THINGS!  It sometimes is hard to actually DO advocacy!
(yes, DO advocacy haha).  But seriously, it is hard to build time into your already busy day at your job (which if you are working for a non-profit then you have multiple jobs built into one description) for advocacy.  We get wrapped up in the things that are on our desk at the time and forget that if we don’t advocate then we may not HAVE a job.  So DO these things.  DO call, email, and fax letters to your official leaders.  DO get face time with them. And what may be the most important DO FOLLOW-UP!  It is in our actions that we will build relationships with our legislators, media people, and the general public.

[Sign up here to get Advocacy Alerts from NACHC or NAEH]


I am in the same boat as you!  I struggle with following through and ACTING and PRACTICING WHAT I PREACH! But the Senate gets started on its programmatic request process (deadline is June 10th).  So let’s go!  No better time than now!


How do you spend your time on advocacy?  What strategies do you have to stay effective and informed?
‘Always learning’ is a response I like to use when someone asks how I am.  I would love to hear from you, COMMENT BELOW!


Reaction Tuesday: “Capitol Hill Day 2011 Policy Priorities”

Alright, FIRST, I need to start with a little ‘editor’s note’.  As I pointed out in a previous post, I am following Rosetta Thurman‘s 31 Days to a Brand New BlogI skipped Day 7 (hope that isn’t cheating), but I skipped Day 7 because I started self-hosting my own blog before I started my challenge.  So, today is Day 8, and the task today was to tweak my blog’s theme.  Well, I did, and hopefully you noticed it is cleaner, clearer, and under control (no my theme is not called Neutrogena).

Back to live action!  Today is Reaction Tuesday.

The article “Capitol Hill Day 2011 Policy Priorities” can be found on the National Alliance to End Homelessness’s website.
— “
The following items are high priority issues on which Congress is currently working and we can make significant progress during Capitol Hill Day at our Annual Conference, July 13-15, 2011. This is not a complete list of the policy initiatives that the Alliance supports.”
(To read the entire article, click here)

I am glad I came across this article in my Google Reader feed this morning because it goes along with some of the strategy I shared yesterday for what to do while in ‘advocacy drought’.  This was released by NAEH to let advocates know what the pressing issues are that really need to be implemented in conversations with legislators everywhere.

I agree and WILL ADVOCATE for all of the points made in this article:

  • Provide $2.4 billion in FY 2012 for HUD’s Homeless Assistance Grants Program. – The HEARTH Act (which by the way was introduced by late Representative Julia Carson from IN District 7) is what I agree with MOST.  This act helps homeless organizations end homelessness in the way that I see it best happening.  Make sure we start at the edges and then get to the heart.  Providing $2.4 billion for this program will allow families to get into rapid re-housing programs and provide support those who are at-risk of becoming homeless. Keeping people off of the streets is the same as getting people off of the streets.

  • Renew all existing Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers in FY 2012 – This is pretty much the same argument as Medicaid for FQHC patients.  Increasing amount of funding for Housing Choice vouchers will allow housing to be more affordable.

  • Provide $135 million in FY 2012 for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) Programs – Increasing access to services for youth is CRITICAL.  Often youth don’t even KNOW about services and resources available, and most of the time it is because the resources are scarce and the services are far away.  Funding RHYA program will cut the the chase again of KEEPING people off of the streets.

  • Provide $100 million for SAMHSA Homeless Services Programs in FY 2012 – More funding for the support services rather than JUST funding the housing. This funding will only be for projects that couple housing with support services for those with mental illness and substance abuse problems.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness ( is a great resource for homelessness prevention advocacy.  Similar to NACHC for Community Health Centers, it leads the grassroots, and just like the article above, lets us know the right things to talk about while advocating!

Any comments, questions, or suggestions!  Discuss below.  Advocacy is always about discussion.

What do we do during advocacy drought? THREE WAYS to get energized for the next wave!

This is something that I have struggled with TIME AND TIME again, and I have only been on top of this advocacy stuff for about 7 or 8 months!!

Last Friday was the last day that our legislators could get programmatic requests in for the FY2012 budget, so we are on what I like to call ‘advocacy drought’.  Hopefully you spent the days leading up to last Friday emailing and calling legislators to bump up appropriations by $200 million for Federally Qualified Health Centers by either signing onto the Bilirakis-Pallone Health Centers Dear Colleague Letter or submitting their own programmatic requests supporting an increase in funding for FQHCs.

So what do we do now during this ‘advocacy drought’?

Other than sitting and waiting to learn of the results.  Results that will probably cause ANOTHER wave of advocacy.  On days like today, what I personally like to do is see what other people are saying.  Tapping into resources who may help in the next wave of advocacy.  There are three ways that in which I find more resources:

  1. Google Blog Searchentering search terms like “fqhc advocacy”, “community health centers”, “homeless advocacy”, etc.  These give me some results and start me down a path to bank some resources that may be of some use in future advocacy pushes.
  2. TwitterWhat are other advocates talking about on Twitter during these times of quote/unquote advocacy drought?  Follow people who @NACHC is following; for homeless advocacy follow the people who @naehomelessness is following!
  3. Take a break take a well-deserved break from everything advocacy.  We have all recognized that being an advocate is being a voice for those who may not be easily heard, but giving yourself some much-needed SELF TIME is important to keeping yourself balanced and energized for the next wave of action alerts!

Here are some resources to get you started –

  • – a great resource (that I help write) posting about advocacy for not only HealthNet’s FQHCs but also the Homeless Initiative Program, Better Indy Babies, and other social services.  You can get a dose of information about advocating for most everything on this blog.
  • – a great resource for the state just north!  They give a good look at what is happening on their state-level and provide insight on how to advocate to local governments.


Do you know of any other great resources for FQHC & homelessness advocacy?
How do you spend your days during advocacy drought?
Do you have a personal blog about your advocacy efforts?
Share the links in the comments section below!



Boosting Advocacy through Social Media – A Refocused Approach

Since Monday I have been following Rosetta Thurman‘s — 31 Days to Build a Better Blog — and I have already seen an improvement.

Steps I have taken so far this week:

  1. Began self-hosting my blog with – fast, easy, and CHEAP (setup my 2 year subscription for in 5 minutes).
  2. Added Google Analytics to my WordPress blog – I used the Google Analytics plugin from Joost De Valk.
  3. Updated my About Page so that all of you readers can have better information about me and why I am writing.
  4. I have written a list post before (5 ways to help Military Families) so I skipped that for the time-being.
  5. Today, leaving comments on three blogs to produce positive karma!

This first week has really helped me to focus my writing and will help shape my posts and make writing easier in the future.

When I began my blog, I knew what I wanted to write about but did not have a goal or end in sight.  After this week of following Rosetta’s lead along with starting a new book Getting Organized in the Google Era by Douglas C. Merrill & James A. Martin, I have come to better understand myself and my blog!


So what does this have to do with advocacy?

To those of you who took some time to look at my About Page quickly, you probably noticed that my writing is NOT going to be about best practices for social media or the latest social media tools or how to better your own blog.

My passion lies with advocacy for social change in the Indianapolis community!  So why am I writing on refocusing my blog?

Because understanding my focus will help to create more conversation.  Especially step #5 above!  Starting some positive karma of commenting on other blog posts.  Information is needed to create more advocacy and better advocacy.

Understanding your own passion and refocusing your opinions helps further discussion!! So let’s do it!!


Have you recently refocused your blog?
How do you advocate for change in your community?

Comment below, email me, or tweet me! @Willie_Matis


Local students & homeless brought together to go “Beyond Perceptions”…

Last Friday, I posted about a couple events happening in our great city of Indianapolis – the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and the First Friday Art Tour put on by IDADA.

While, I personally did not get a chance to visit the Beyond Perceptions Art Gallery at the Indiana Interchurch Center, I will definitely make it a point to stop by sometime this month.  The gallery is still on display there, and after reading the Beyond Perceptions publication, I need to see the art in the first-person.

Just reading this online magazine shows you the importance that knowledge plays into going beyond perceptions and correcting misconceptions.  Students from Bishop Chatard High School, Lawrence North High School, and Fountain Square Academy all participated in this great project put on by the Indianapolis Art Center, Wheeler Mission, and the Homeless Initiative Program.

This project is more than just bringing student’s art together with art from people experiencing homelessness.  This project starts with students from each school coming up with art (painting, drawing, essays, poems, etc.) based on how they perceive homelessness in our city, and at the same time clients of Wheeler Mission and the Homeless Initiative Program come up with artwork based on how they feel others perceive their situation.

The students and homeless individuals then come together during a Discussion Day to talk about their misconceptions and go BEYOND PERCEPTIONS. And, the greatest thing about it is that not only are the students learning more about homelessness and getting rid of stereotypes but also the individuals struggling through homelessness realize that students are more aware than they think.  After Discussion Day, the students and homeless persons come up with an after art piece.  Both before and after pieces are displayed in the gallery.

My short summary of the project does not do this GREAT project justice at all, so I encourage you to read the Beyond Perceptions publication.  It’s online, you don’t have to order anything, and you can click through to see the samples of paintings, poems, essays, and stories that get a spotlight during this awesome project.

Look through it and learn more.  Maybe we will bump into each other in the gallery later this month!  Our whole community can use a good exercise in going…

Beyond Perceptions!

Reaction Tuesday: Too many faces of homelessness

The article “Too many faces of homelessness” was an editorial featured in the Indianapolis Staronline.  “The cost of homelessness — of battling it as a society, of living it as an individual or family — was very much in the news on Friday. Readers of The Star learned that the annual homeless count in Indianapolis rose this year despite a number of successful efforts to get residents safely housed. They also learned, in the report on 61-year-old Stephen McGuire, that living on the streets can be worse than miserable.” (To read the entire article click here)

The editorial touched on a subject that I have been wanting to speak about for a while now but did not really know in what context to bring it up.  That subject is violence against the homeless.  Violence against the homeless, that statement alone makes me react with a HUUUH??  I don’t understand HOW someone, an individual OR a gang, could even have a thought cross their mind about beating up a guy that is minding his own business and has ALREADY fallen on hard times.

“Nearly 300 street people have been murdered since 1999.” – Author of editorial.

I agree wholeheartedly with the author in his summary paragraph at the end of the article:

  • “The bottom line: Homelessness will be with us to an intolerable degree for some time. Government and private philanthropy must continue pushing back directly against it while promoting the natural forces necessary to make a sea change. Housing, after all, is a basic right — and, as we have sadly seen, it can be a vital need.” – Housing is a basic right!

The one thing that I wanted to add and wished was included was recognition for all of the homeless programs that are fighting to help those in need in Indianapolis:

All of these programs have the same mission, to prevent and end homelessness in Indianapolis. Take your time to raise awareness  for these great organizations, and the importance of treating every Indianapolis resident as a neighbor, even if they don’t have a roof over their head.  Discussion needs to take place so that we can take steps to move forward and make Indy a greater place!!

Indy Weekend – First Friday, Beyond Perceptions Art Fair, & Mini Marathon

May is always huge for Indianapolis!!  I love it!  As soon as this rain decides to stop, then it will be cookouts, sun, and more cookouts!  But for now here are some ideas to kick-off your first weekend in May!

1. First Friday Art Tour – The First Friday Art tour is a great reason to go downtown and hang out!  Usually galleries will open at 6 pm and close at 9 pm.  There are MULTIPLE locations as south as Fountain Square and as North as 16th Street!

This weeks special events are Arsenal Technical High School Exhibit, Beyond Perceptions Art Fair, Artful Tread and Spring Gallery Walk, and the Urban Elements Exhibits Herron Artists.
(Learn more by reading the brochure here).

My personal bias would point you toward the Beyond Perceptions Art Fair!  It is from 6:30-9 p.m. at Indiana Interchurch Center, Krannert Hall, 1100 W 42nd Street, at the intersection of 42nd and Michigan Rd.  “The Indianapolis Art Center, Wheeler Mission Ministries, and the Homeless Initiative Program partner to bring you Beyond Perceptions, a show that explores stereotypes and perceptions of homelessness through the eyes and creative hands of teens from Bishop Chatard High School, Fountain Square Academy and Lawrence North High School, as well as men and women from the Wheeler Mission Ministries Lighthouse Center and Center for Women and Children and the Homeless Initiative Program’s Threshold and Dowe Projects.

2. The OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon
– a 13.1 Mile Trek throughout Indianapolis that takes you from the heart of downtown around the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and back!  The LARGEST half-marathon in the U.S. can be watched at home, celebrated downtown at Military Park, or ran as long as you sign up in DECEMBER!!  This great event brings together 40,000+ and a staple of May in Indianapolis!!

Both of these organizations on Twitter – @IDADA for First Fridays
and @500Festival for the Mini!


Reaction Tuesday (but it’s Thursday) – Why You Should Be on Foursquare

Reaction Tuesday, happening on a Thursday!

The article I am reacting to today has more to do with Social Media use rather than advocacy.  An article, written by Jessica Journey, as a guest post on Jeff Stanger’s Blue Trolley Press.  “Please stop giving me the stink eye when I ask you if you are on FourSquare. Geo-location social networks are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason!  There are lots of reasons why you should be on FourSquare…” (Click here to read the entire article)

I am glad that I waited until today (Thursday) to do my Reaction Tuesday!  Because I spent most of my Tuesday getting onto Foursquare.  I had previously downloaded the Yelp app for my Droid X just because of the Monocle mode where you can point your phone in any direction and it’ll will show you what restaurants/bars/entertainment places are nearby.

So, this Tuesday, I was getting up to speed with Foursquare as well.  And, I agree most with what Jessica said…

  • “Are you a marketing professional? If yes, you should be on FourSquare! FourSquare is all about brand experience. Don’t you think that’s what it’s really all about?” I need to start claiming venue’s for each of my organization‘s health centers.  Most importantly because you can track what people are saying about the services of our staff, providers, and the overall experience they have with our centers.
  • “… from completely private to sharing on multiple social networks. You have complete control!A lot of people don’t feel like telling everyone WHERE they are at all times.  ‘Why do I need to check-in and let everyone know where I am?’  YOU DON’T.. Just like Facebook, Foursquare has a friending system, and you can JUST share with your Foursquare friends or if you want to brag about being backstage with the Lady Gaga you can shout out your location on Facebook and Twitter ALL YOU WANT!!
  • Yelp


Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook places – they all matter

You don’t necessarily need to have all of these check-in apps or tools, but especially if you oversee the Social Media for your place of business, then you need a way of viewing what people are saying when they DO check-in.  All in all, this was a good article by Jessica Journey reaffirming why Foursquare is important (you can also get discounts at restaurants/bars when you check-in).  Whether you are a consumer or a Social Media Director, location tools matter and are another extension of Social Media Marketing.