Focus groups and flying time

Week 8 of the Fellowship is coming to an end, and I can’t believe how quickly time
is moving. It seems like just yesterday that I was nervously starting my new position
and trying to get a handle on the organization and my project. Now, I am
planning the last few activities and putting finishing touches on my research.
I have to say, it’s been a great experience. I love being able to decide for
myself where to take each section of the project—the autonomy has taught me
that I am capable of working very independently. I also like that my Fellowship
experience has had a mix, the “best of both worlds”, in that I do spend a lot
of time learning and doing research on my own, but a good portion of my
research also had to come from clients, staff, and other human sources. This
week, I was able to visit one of the licensed supported living centers for DD
clients and conduct a focus group with a few of the guys. I asked them a few
basic questions—their favorite aspects of Alvis House, their least favorite,
what they feel are their biggest challenges—and I was so grateful for the level of
response that I received. They were so willing to take time out of their days
to help me out with a project, and I can’t thank the guys enough for their contributions! The most difficult part was getting them to come up with things that
they didn’t like about living in their respective houses. It seemed to be all praise at first, which is great of course, but I needed to hear some criticism to really be able to add the information to the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. They eventually came up with a few suggestions and services they would like to see
added to the programs in the future. Next week, I am headed to one of the halfway houses to do a similar group with corrections clients, and I am looking forward to honing my focus group skills!

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