Community Tools

Three Questions to Ask Your Collaborative This Winter

Winter is coming (insert Jon Snow meme here).

What does that mean for your collaborative? There’s no one who knows the answer better than you and your collaborative members. Here are three questions to discuss together as you plan for the months ahead.

1) How do holidays impact our service to veterans in the community?

  • Will partner organizations will be closed over the holidays?
  • Will they be minimally staffed?
  • When do full services resume?
  • What is the best way to refer clients during periods of limited staffing?

2) Are we prepared to handle increased mental health needs?

  • From holiday stressors to the shorter winter days, this can be a tough time of year for anyone. Does every partner in your collaborative know how to recognize signs that someone is struggling?
  • Is referral information up to date, and is everyone prepared to make appropriate referrals when needed?
  • Does your local crisis response organization stay open on holidays?

3) Does weather change the way we do business?

(Relevant to communities affected by snow, ice, cold, and harsh winter weather. If you live somewhere balmy, I’m jealous. Feel free to skip ahead.)

  • How does weather impact our ability to do serve veterans?
    • Can our members still reach the veterans we serve?
    • Can veterans still reach us?
  • What trends in veteran needs present during the winter? Consider factors like:
    • housing and homelessness
    • the cost of heating oil
    • lack of GI Bill payments over winter break
    • unemployment and underemployment due to seasonal jobs
  • When and how will we cancel collaborative meetings?
    • Will we use the local school system as a litmus, or government offices?
    • How do we alert members?
    • Is it time to try a virtual meeting solution?

Through conversations guided by these questions, you may learn that there are strategic partnerships you can build or mutually reinforcing activities you can plan to help you overcome winter’s challenges. For example, if seasonal employment presents challenges, can two seasonal employers synch up to hire employes year-round?

Chances are that the issues that arise during your discussion of these questions are recurrent ones that members of your collaborative deal with each year, on their own. Sometimes, recurrent issues are a part of the rhythm of life, but not every issue is inevitable. By taking the time to think intentionally and collectively about the winter’s challenges, you create a collaborative opportunity to strategize.