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July 13, 2012

post by Steve Nelson, Amicus Communications Director

I am like a book, with pages that have stuck together for want of use: my mind needs unpacking and the truths stored within must be turned over from time to time, to be ready when occasion demands  – Seneca

It’s easy to underestimate the challenges of unpacking after a move or a trip.  It can be a time of looking at oneself in a lens that’s been changed by your recent experiences and that’s not always fun. Not only does unpacking often signal the end of the adventure and the return to the “normal” but it’s also a time when a question can be heard clanging away at the back of one’s brain: “What Now?”

We’ve been unpacking at Amicus for a few weeks now after our move to 3041 Fourth Avenue South in Minneapolis.  We’re still refining our approach to the new space, shifting workstations around and wondering whether the long promised concept of  a “paperless office” is perhaps buried somewhere in our file room. But the physical part of our move is pretty much complete.

Now we seem to be shifting to mental unpacking. How do we make “Amicus” work in a new environment?  When we moved in, it was obvious that some Amicus Reconnect clients were waiting for us and happy that our services were now more easily available in their home neighborhood. A couple clients are even lending a hand themselves, volunteering with us. Others in the neighborhood who could use our services don’t know a thing about us. How can we introduce ourselves to them?At the same time, some of our other clients from the downtown location are still finding their way to us.  How can we make it easier for them to get here?

Thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety we’re beginning an exciting project now which will introduce us and strengthen our relationships with our new neighbors in south Minneapolis. Part of that will mean going out to other social service organizations, housing complexes and communities of faith with what we’re calling “Mobile Reconnect.” Through the program, we can offer some basic Reconnect services at these various locations, and also connect with those in need who have a criminal record, inviting them to visit our full Amicus Reconnect office when they are able.

We’re also beginning to connect with some of the great agencies already in this  neighborhood and starting discussions about how we can partner with them to serve our shared clients better and more efficiently.

That’s what I was thinking about when I was drawn to the Seneca quotation at the top of this post.  Sometimes unpacking is a way to rediscover truths about who we are and turn them over,  allowing us to present them in a fresh way when the occasion demands.

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