Tips On Getting Help

Pioneering Second Chances

Established in 1988, Chattanooga Endeavors is the first and longest-serving re-entry program in East Tennessee. #Chattanooga #SecondChances #IntegrativeJustice

know your team

If you’re anxious to find the help you need, you’re likely to skip this page and move on to more practical information that we’ve posted elsewhere. However, it will take just a couple of minutes of your time to read what’s below. And the point that we’re making is extraordinarily important:

To get the help you need, you need to know who is on your team. Many will say they are. But few actually are. And the ones who are, may not be where you expect them to be.

Keep in mind that very few people give without strings attached. They want something in return.  Know what you need from the person helping you — and know what they need from you in return. 

PS – If you live in the Chattanooga area and would like us to pass along opportunities that we hear about, just text “help” to +1 423 266-1888.

The Best Is Right under your nose

The fact that you’re looking for help and not waiting on it is the best help of all. So, don’t get discourage! And never give up! You’re already a step ahead of most if you’re reaching out.

Just keep in mind that what you’re looking for isn’t likely to be where you expect to find it. Like looking for a needle in a haystack, going off the beaten path, or happening upon a pearl of great price, the best things hide a little.

You need to beat the bushes. Which means you need to talk with a lot of people — and keep talking until you find someone who can point you to what you need.

There is a lot of information online. Maybe too much! But even United Way’s First Call for Help directory — which lists over 10,000 health and human services programs in Tennessee — is incomplete.  

The truth of the matter is that a lot of good help comes and goes quickly — much too quickly to get added to a state-wide database. Assistance is sometimes attached to temporary funding at organizations. Sometimes it’s attached to the big hearts of individuals who help outside the mainstream. Sometimes it’s just a one-off event like a workshop or job fair that gets advertised on a community bulletin board. And sometimes people are just in the right place at the right time when an opportunity opens up.  

Never end a conversation phone without asking, “Who else out there might have what I need?” and “If you were me, what would you do?”

Just because you’ve been convicted of a felony doesn’t mean that you qualify only for services made for “ex-felons.”  You’re also part of the general public. Therefore, unless you’re specifically disqualified because of your conviction, there are many general services that are open to the general public and don’t discriminate on the basis of a criminal background. So forget about your background and ask for what you need. 

visualize the barriers

A common mistake people make when setting goals, is that they don’t anticipate the things that might get in the way. Therefore, when something gets in the way — and something always gets in the way — they’re not ready to adjust.

Instead of just setting a goal, visualize it in three-dimension:

  1. Get really clear about what you’re going for — and what your life will be like if you achieve it.
  2. Get really clear also about what your life will be like if you don’t achieve it. 
  3. Now think hard about all of the things that might get in your way — and detail what you will do to get past these barriers if they arise.

After you’re clear about the three dimensions, get obsessed with your goal and keep moving! 

Something from Nothing

This is totally old school, but there’s a universal lesson in it that’s worth a look. When you know what you’re going for and you look for opportunities that move you in the direction of your goal — one tiny step at a time — it is absolutely possible to achieve goals that seem completely out of reach at the beginning.

immediate needs can be a trap

When you’re hungry, it’s natural to think only of food. However, you don’t want to get caught in a situation where the help you’re seeking only puts food in your mouth. You should have in mind also making a way to keep food on your table.  So meet your needs — but stay a step ahead of them.  Always ask yourself, what’s next? What has to happen for this need to no longer be a need in my life? And put as much energy into that as you put into meeting the need itself.

Some answers might be right under your nose

Help doesn’t have to be professional. Consider reaching out to your family, friends, and associates who you admire, especially if they’ve been in similar circumstances and can empathize with you.  Just make sure that they don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution — namely, theirs.  You want them to “understand” because they’ve been there, not to “know” because they’ve been there. There are ten thousand ways to recover from incarceration and one of them is yours and yours alone.

Watch out for guru leaders

Unfortunately, the helping field attracts all kinds of needy helpers. Therefore, you should be careful not to get caught up with people or programs with personal agendas. While they may have something to offer, when push comes to shove, they will always put their needs ahead of yours. This isn’t necessarily a reason to decline their services. However, it is good to know where you stand. Be wary of organizations that promote their philosophy over their services, that lift up their leader like a prophet, that believe everyone needs what they have, or that claim that no one else can do what they can.  These organizations and their guru leaders actually need you more than you need them. So be extremely cautious about taking their help.

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