At Inland Regional Center the Community Engagement and Training Unit, often referred to as CETU, is responsible for IRC special events, consumer affairs and trainings, Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC), staff development and training, social media, addressing disparity in purchase of services, community relations and brand management. On any given day we are training staff, engaging the community at outreaches, or supporting the CAC with trainings and event development.
Engaging the community is a huge task. It’s not all IRC fact sheets, fancy outreach tables and greeting people as they walk by looking for a free pen. We attend the Inland Empire Disability Collaborative, Inland Empire Father’s Coalition, Disability Awareness Subcommittee, San Bernardino Voter’s Accessibility Committee among other community groups. This is an old model of engaging the community, effective still, but we want to evolve and engage the community in new way and innovative ways.
We utilize outreaches to assist IRC in addressing disparities in our Purchase of Services. Lilliana Garnica, our Disparity Outreach Coordinator, aka “The Doc”, is out there speaking to parents, helping them remove barriers, so they can access the services they need and deserve.
Training, training, training! In the Army we had a saying, “If it ain’t raining we ain’t training.” This time of year, we don’t see much rain, but you will find the Senior Training Specialist Jonathan Eckrich at the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, Fontana and Rialto Police Departments teaching the local law enforcement officers about IRC and disability awareness. You also may find him at California Children Services teaching parents how to advocate for their kids and making sure they understand the complex Regional Center system. Jonathan also trains IRC’s newest staff members and provides Continuing Education Unit classes to all IRC employees.
The Event Developer/Training Specialist Daisy Felix works on creating amazing Consumer events like CAC Casino Night. This event offers our consumers, age 16 and older, an opportunity to meet and create friendships with their peers in an atmosphere that is not only fun but accepting. Daisy also coordinates new parent orientation and other trainings that assist our community in areas such as, anti-bullying, sex education, how to talk to your child about sex, self-advocacy and more!
Our Consumer Advocates, Greg Harrison and Cody Williams, have played a key role in communicating with consumers in programs and making sure their voices are heard. They also planned a very cool mini golf tournament to help raise money for the CAC and are responsible for planning the CAC board and general meetings.
Earlier this, year we co-sponsored a three-day Job Seekers Training class, with In-Roads Creative Programs and Premier Healthcare. During this three-day course IRC Consumers learned from the subject matter experts on how to complete an application, how to dress for an interview, attended mock interviews and what it’s like to a start a small business.
Let’s not forget CST II Ismeth Estrada, who backs the entire team up with logistic support and ensures we have what we need to be successful. Our CST III, George Gonzalez, also supports this dynamic team with amazing graphic and web design talents, acting as CETU’s designer and webmaster.
Putting all this together and highlighting the talents of this agency daily is our Community Relations Specialist, Amelia Maldonado. From social media to IRC’s website to press releases she is making sure our community knows about all the wonderful things we are doing at IRC. She was recently a guest on Voice of the Inland Empire where she spoke to host Ron Stark about the ins and outs of IRC.
These outreaches, events, trainings, along with our web presence highlight the truly wonderful things that IRC is accomplishing each day. Great community relations means setting up ongoing relationships with many important audiences, such as Consumers, families, vendors, and staff. We are proud to serve the IRC Community and look forward to continuing this mission.
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