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Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Outreach/Identifying Community Needs

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Identifying Community Needs
North American Division


Skill Level 1
Year of Introduction: 2009



Earning this honor meets a requirement for:

IA logo.png
Investiture Achievement Connection: This Honor is related to the Investiture Achievement requirements for VOYAGER Serving Others which require completion of Requirements #1-#4 of this Honor. Frontier Voyagers must earn the Honor.

This honor was developed in cooperation with Adventist Community Services.

1. Jesus understood the needs of his community because he went out and saw their needs. Read Matthew 9:35-38.

Matthew 9:35-38 (NKJV)
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

2. Select an urban or suburban neighborhood, a small town or a rural region on which to focus in the completion of the requirements for this honor.

Because this is your community, you should have some idea of where the greatest needs are. Match the size of the area on which you focus with the resources you have available, but don't forget that the Lord will provide for His own work.

3. Compile a file folder of information on the selected community, which could include:

If you live in the United States, most of this information can be gathered from the U.S Census Bureau at http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml Just go there and enter a zip code. Working at a Zip Code level is going to be the easiest.

In Canada you will want to check Statistics Canada by Postal Code (quite a small area), Postal Code Range, or Urban Area.

a. A map of the area

Unless very sparsely populated, an area of even one square mile may be sufficient or possibly too large for this project. Choose an area that you can actually assess carefully in the time you allot with the number of people you have to do it. Then, with photocopies of a map of the area, define each team's "zone" for them so that there will be no unneeded overlapping and no place unchecked.

Use one of the many online mapping services, or obtain a street atlas. The point is to clearly define your target territory.

b. A demographic profile

A demographic profile is a breakdown of the people in the community based on age, sex, race, income levels, employment status, average household size, etc.

Easy and free demographics are available online at city-data.com.

AdventSource and your local city manager's office may also be able to provide you with up to date demographics. AdventSource will refer you to the Center for Metropolitan Ministry at Washington Adventist University, which is the only Adventist organization currently providing demographic reports for local communities. You can reach the staff at 800-438-9600.

c. Public health statistics

This includes the rates of:

  • Birth
  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Fetal death

Try plugging in the name of your state or region plus "public health statistics" into a search engine. You may also try contacting your local or regional health services department by mail, phone or internet to gather these statistics.

d. Economic indicators

Economic indicators include employment rates, income levels, occupations, number of businesses vs residences, etc. This information is usually included with any standard demographic report. If it is not, you can get information like this from your municipality, county/parish, or state by contacting the Department of Economic Services and Community Development. They will be able to provide you with income reports and business statistics for their jurisdiction; you may also contact the Department of Revenue for sales tax and other local revenue statistics.

e. Housing information

Housing information includes data such as the percentage of houses units that are apartments, single family homes, lot size, and whether the home is rented or owned. Single-family homes on large lots in urban areas indicates a higher level of income.

f. Environment and transportation

Environmental data includes such things as the amount of land set aside for conservation or public access. Transportation includes figures such as the number of people who drive to work alone, carpool, walk, use public transportation, or work from home. It also includes the availability of public transportation (subway, bus service, etc).

4. With an adult sponsor, take an awareness walk of or drive around a specific part of the selected community with the goal in mind of seeing human needs. List all of the needs you see such as yards and public areas that could be cleaned up, litter that could be picked up, lonely or aged people that could be helped, low-income families with children that could be assisted, etc.

This requirement will have to be planned well ahead of its execution. You will need signed permission slips for all the Pathfinders as well as a plan for transportation. Transportation could be as simple as walking around the neighborhood outside your church, or it could mean loading everyone up into vehicles and driving around.

If your club participates in a can collecting drive, you could do your awareness walk as you collect food.

When you are out looking around, here are some things to note:

  • Homelessness
    • Tents pitched in public places, in wooded areas along roadsides, etc
    • Disheveled people sitting on park benches, etc
    • People holding signs saying "Homeless" at street corners
    • Panhandlers
  • Unattended children
  • Houses in disrepair
    • Broken windows
    • Houses needing paint
    • Overgrown lawns
  • Litter
  • Graffiti
  • Unmaintained parks

5. Ask a civic leader or community professional about the needs in the community, the various organizations that provide services in the community, and how a Christian youth group might make a contribution to the community. Take notes during the interview.
Alternate Requirement: Invite a civic leader or community professional to make a presentation to your Pathfinder Club, youth group, or church group to talk about these topics. Takes notes during the presentation.

These people carry with them a great deal of knowledge on local needs and services; they are familiar with local professional and volunteer organizations that operate in your area.

In the book Understanding Your Community by Monte Sahlin there is an entire chapter that explains how to do this. It includes a list of 50 civic leader roles that typically exist in communities in the United States, with specific questions for each of these roles. You can order this book at Center for Creative Ministry or AdventSource.

6. Make a presentation of at least 10 minutes to a local church committee, community service organization, your Pathfinder Club or Unit, or a similar group. This presentation should include a report of the information you collected and at least 3 suggested projects that the local Adventist Community Services (in the United States), ADRA Canada (in Canada), Youth Empowered to Serve, or Pathfinder Club might provide which are needed in this community.

Don't be nervous about presenting before a group of people. Whether it is to the church board or to your unit, nobody there is watching and waiting for you to make a mistake. Most will be genuinely interested in seeing you succeed with your presentation. The church board will be very impressed with your desire to serve the Lord.

Make sure you prepare ahead of time. You can outline your presentation on a sheet of paper, or perhaps even prepare a slide show with your talking points. If you do prepare a slide show, make sure that it's not just a huge wall of text. If that's what you end up with, you would be better off with notes you look at yourself.

The most important thing to do during your presentation is to relax. Remember, it is not your plans and you that will be accepted or rejected, but rather, it is the Lord's plans. He can deal with it. All you need to do is present it.


Studying Your Community by Roland L. Warren, Free Press, New York and London ( 1965)

The Church That Cares: Identifying and Responding to Needs in Your Community by Kenneth R. Miller and Mary E. Wilson, Judson Press, Valley Forge, Penn

Understanding Your Community by Monte Sahlin, Center for Creative Ministry, Lincoln, Nebraska (Third Edition, 2006)