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Opinion: CVOEO surveys help shape services for struggling families

“I can’t save enough money.” “I have trouble paying my bills.” “I need help feeding my family.” Those choices were the top concerns listed in CVOEO’s Customer Satisfaction Survey. I read these concerns over and over as I sat at my desk inputting the information from hard copies of the CVOEO surveys into a survey monkey tool so that we could more easily collate and analyze the results. I start to imagine a person looking down at the survey and checking off the challenges before them. There were 322 surveys that came back to us. Each one told a story that is essential for us to hear.
Every three years CVOEO goes through a battery of surveys: Community Needs Assessment, Customer Satisfaction and the Self-Assessment. These surveys and more conversations feed into a Community Needs Assessment Report that will eventually inform our strategic direction for the next three to five years. Each survey comes from a different perspective. Those people who answer the questions from the Community Needs Assessment are people from different sectors of helping professionals in addition to individuals on Front Porch Forum. The Customer Satisfaction Surveys are answered by those who use our services from all our programs. The Self-Assessment survey is answered by CVOEO staff.
Having a variety of perspectives gives us a balanced view to the challenges facing families in our communities. The questions are a bit different and the answers give us clues to how we can provide better programs, improve our systems and feel affirmed in the work we are doing each day. “I always feel like I leave with some stress lifted off my shoulders,” said one of those we serve. “Advocate, get funding and hire good people,” said a community member. When asked “What is something that you wish you could do in the coming year? What is the likelihood that it will happen?” one of CVOEO’s employees answered “Connect more deeply with our staff and the people we serve. Likelihood: 100 percent.”
We learned from these surveys and demographic research that in the category of income level the largest number of households served by CVOEO include those whose income is at 50 percent or below the Federal Poverty level. The number of households with no reported income (669) emphasize that we need to continue to provide crisis services involving housing, food and fuel. And for me, it is most glaringly apparent when comparing the top 10 concerns from the Community Needs Assessment to the Customer Satisfaction Survey that CVOEO needs to continue focusing on getting control of assets back in the hands of those we serve through financial coaching.
Every day and every three years, in a concentrated way, we look, listen and compare what we are doing with what our mission demands of us. How do we change and grow to serve those before us? We need to get this right.
If you would like to read our Community Needs Assessment Report, email me at [email protected].
Jan Demers is the executive Director of CVOEO.

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