SOAR Practitioner to SOAR TA Center Liaison
By Amanda Starkey
April 4, 2018
My work as a SOAR Practitioner has been life-changing, not only for the people I have had the privilege to serve, but for me as well. In 2010, my first “real” job out of college was as a “SOAR Specialist” for my local Community Mental Health Center in Macomb County, a suburb just outside Detroit, Michigan. Over the course of my career, I have been able to help over 200 clients, some family members, and even a couple of acquaintances secure the benefits they so desperately needed to support themselves and their families. I have seen people go from sleeping outside and struggling to find their next meal, to living in a comfortable apartment with a full fridge and some spare money in their bank accounts. This work has completely changed my life, and heightened my appreciation for the challenges some people face, just to get through the day. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve so many people, in such an impactful way.
In November 2017, I was offered a position at Policy Research Associates, Inc., as a SOAR Technical Assistance Center Liaison. It has been an exciting learning experience, with unique challenges, to transition from providing direct assistance, to helping facilitate SOAR on a national level. Instead of “getting my hands dirty” out in the field, I’m using my knowledge from past experiences to help new SOAR Practitioners write their first Medical Summary Reports. I’m helping seasoned SOAR Practitioners transition to Local Lead roles, expanding SOAR in their communities. I get to assist with developing strategic planning on a statewide basis, in the states that I serve. To say this has been a shift in responsibilities is an understatement.
I am learning how much hard work and dedication it takes to keep SOAR thriving throughout CoCs and nationwide. It has been eye-opening to witness the dedication and expertise of my colleagues at the TA Center. I appreciate this unique opportunity I have been given, to get to see SOAR from both sides of the facilitation spectrum. While my experience doing the direct work will always be considered a lifetime achievement for me, I am excited to help expand SOAR so this work can be magnified through the people I get to assist in my new role!
The views, opinions, and content expressed in SOAR Voices do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors.