The green vest worn by Unity House Ambassadors is a symbol of pride. A beacon, you might say for those in need of help. Unity House Ambassadors wear the vest with pride, knowing they can help others by way of sharing their experience.
What are Unity House Ambassadors?
They are a group of adults who use peer-to-peer mentoring to encourage Troy residents struggling with untreated mental illness to engage in available services. Services are available at Unity House and other community agencies. The role of the ambassadors is to tap into pockets of Troy where caseworkers have not been able to reach, to shepherd those who need services to a place where they can get them.
Studies have shown that peer support is an effective strategy for sustained behavior change for people with chronic conditions, and its benefits can be extended to community, organizational and societal levels. Having Ambassadors on board at Unity House further emphasizes our core belief that all individuals are to be treated with respect and compassion so they may have dignity and hope for changed lives. With the Ambassador’s help, we are able to:
- Reach people who may be reluctant to enter our Community Resource Center at 2431 Sixth Avenue. Ambassadors are key in inviting people to take advantage of available community resources.
- Maintain a welcoming atmosphere at Bethany Community Meals. Ambassadors greet guests, often by name!
- Publicize Unity House’s Housing and Mental Health Services, encouraging enrollment for people living with mental illness. Again, shepherding people in need to services they can benefit from, thereby increasing their self-sufficiency is a task for the Ambassadors.
- Increase the Trauma-Informed literacy of our staff, including the Ambassadors, while building relationships with local scholars.
What does it mean to be Trauma-Informed?
There is a clear link between trauma and health, both mental and physical. Trauma-informed care speaks to this link, acknowledging that many of the people in need have experienced trauma and this has an impact on their current physical and mental health. Treatment plans recognize this fact.
Unity House is grateful for the community partners who make the Ambassador program possible. Through collaboration with Sage Colleges we are able to tailor our trauma-informed approach to maximize the chance of success with those difficult-to-reach folks. With the help of the Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, we are able to train Ambassadors and staff alike to insure our outreach efforts will have maximum impact.
At its most basic, an Ambassador can simply be described as a representative from his/her home country. And that’s what the Unity House Ambassador program speaks to: a representative from your tribe, someone who speaks your language, one who will represent your interests and needs, someone who understands you- maybe because they’ve been in your shoes.
With the help of Ambassadors, we can clear out the hurdles that might prevent someone from accessing available services. Services that people struggling with unmet needs can benefit from to make life better.
Many thanks to all who make this program possible and special thanks to our first class of Ambassadors- look for them in their green vests!