Our CARES Teams have told us they need tips for engaging with difficult-to-reach residents. It could be that they're shy, or there's a cultural barrier keeping them from connecting, or maybe they're just too busy. Whatever the cause, we hope to spark some ideas to reaching ALL of your residents. We found this article by Jim Diers, a professor in Seattle with over 30 years of world-wide community building experience. Here is a brief summary of his article on Broad and Inclusive Community Engagement:
Start where people are. Begin with the kind of community you have. If it's not engaged yet, that's okay. Take what you have to work with and don't get bogged down with how you want it to look. While our ultimate goal is a strong, inclusive, deep community, it takes time to get there. And that's okay. Figure out where people are and relate to that.
If you have members of your community who are from a different culture or religion, try to connect them with individuals who are from similar cultures. Invite them all over for dinner, a smaller setting and potentially less intimidating than a large event, to introduce them to one another. This can be a great opportunity for you to get to know all of them better as well.
Find out what people love, what they are passionate about, and what motivates them. Then, connect them with these things. If they love a type of food, incorporate it into your next event in an effort to help them feel more comfortable attending. People who regularly attend events will come anyway, and you may draw out some people who have never attended before.
If you have a particularly shy or introverted individual you are trying to engage, they may respond better to community service events, especially if they have a particular task to do. Maybe they are an expert organizer or designer. Host an event where several residents who specialize in things can come showcase their skills. They can set up "booths" and invite other residents to visit and find out tips for organizing, or graphic design, or goal setting. Or maybe your resident loves to work on cars - host a Car CARE Event and let your resident take the lead.
Keep people involved. Give your residents a reason to keep coming back to your events. Connect like-minded people with one another so those relationships can turn into friendships. Engage in genuine conversation to connect with individuals on a deeper level. Invite people who enjoy having a job to do to help with your events.
These are just a few ideas to get you started and help spark other ideas. If you're a current CARES Team, we have some great resources on our CARES Team Toolkit for engaging a diverse range of people.