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Carolyn Kirkwood – Supervisor Spotlight

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Carolyn Kirkwood has worked for the agency for three years and in that time, she has served as a resource coordinator, an intake coordinator, and now she serves as our intake manager. She actually got involved in human services because she experienced working with social workers first hand. “I became a foster parent in 2011 and loved everything about it,” Carolyn said. Collaborating with foster care staff motivated her to obtain her own degree in social work from Daemen. She’s currently enrolled in a masters program through Simmons School of Social Work.

As people throughout the agency know, Carolyn has been absolutely instrumental in implementing our central intake process. Previously, individual programs handled their own intakes. This worked well when we were a smaller organization, but the system developed problems as we grew. “It created hardships for our referral partners,” Carolyn noted. “Now, our relationships with our referral sources are great.”

Our intake department, which is less than a year old, has allowed us to be more efficient and consistent. The team has greatly reduced the length of time that beds remain open. This is especially important considering more and more people are seeking treatment due to the opioid crisis occurring throughout the area. “We’re in high demand,” she said. “There’s no one else in the area that offers the services we provide. We’re serving more people and we’re serving the population that needs us the most.”

Now that our intake team has grown to three people, we are able to help more individuals in need. “The volume of applications is increasing, but we’re able to help more people in a day than we were before.”  Our team is processing around thirty applications each day. Having a team also allows Carolyn to focus on ensuring that our residents are connected to funding and benefit resources. “Whatever little bit they can get is helpful,” she said. This includes connecting them to resources like SNAP benefits (food stamps) and payments from local departments of social services.

Carolyn is very mindful that her department is often the first contact for applicants and new residents. This is important in establishing relationships and trust. “We’re the face of the agency,” she said. “We try to be extra friendly, polite, and positive.” This outlook serves her team well as residents often call back and thank the team for helping them to access treatment. This gratitude makes it all worth it for Carolyn. “The success stories and the success rates keep me going,” she said. “As long as we’ve changed one person, we’ve done our job.”

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