Giving and Leading: Collaboratory on Central, Westward Ho

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The Collaboratory on Central is a joint effort by Arizona State University, the owners of the Westward Ho and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that allows students from several majors to gain valuable experience and help improve the lives of the nearly 300 residents that call the apartment building home. ASU nursing, nutrition, social work and therapeutic recreation students will provide services for the elderly who live in the Westward Ho while gaining experience in their respective areas of study. Michael Shafer, a professor in the School of Social Work at ASU’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions, will tell us more.

TED SIMONS: TONIGHT'S EDITION OF ARIZONA GIVING AND LEADING LOOKS AT A NEW JOINT VENTURE TO HELP THE YOUNG AND OLD. IT IS CALLED THE COLLABORATORY ON CENTRAL AND ALLOWS ASU STUDENTS TO WORK WITH ELDERLY AND DISABLED RESIDENTS OF THE HISTORIC WESTWARD HO IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX. WITH MORE ON ALL THIS WE WELCOME ASU'S COLLEGE OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND COMMUNITY SOLUTIONS, MICHAEL SHAFER. WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE?

MICHAEL SHAFER: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT ASU LEASING OUT 15,000 SQUARE FEET ON THE GROUND FLOOR OF THE WESTWARD HO. AND IN THAT SPACE CREATING AN INNOVATIVE ENTERPRISE THAT BRINGS TOGETHER STUDENTS AND RESEARCHERS TO ENGAGE IN COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH WITH THE TENANTS AND WITH THE COMMUNITIES OF PHOENIX AND GREATER ARIZONA.

TED SIMONS: MOST PEOPLE KNOW THE WESTWARD HO, BUT WHAT IS IT FOR THOSE THAT JUST MOVED HERE?

MICHAEL SHAFER: THE WESTWARD HO IS A HOTEL THAT WAS BUILT IN 1928. IT WAS THE TALLEST BUILDING AT THE TIME WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI. THE FIRST BUILDING TO GET AIR CONDITIONING AND WAS THE CULTURAL ICON AND GATHERING PLACE FOR THE PHOENICIAN POPULATION IN ADDITION TO THE HAZE ADAM HOTEL. BUT THE PONCHO ROOM WHICH IS WITHIN THE HO HELD A SPECIAL PLACE WITH A COCKTAIL LOUNGE. IN 1962, IT WAS THE SITE OF WHEN PRESIDENT KENNEDY AND JOHNSON AND ENTIRE NATIONAL AND STATE LEADERSHIP STEPPED OUT TO RECOGNIZE CARL HAYDEN AT THE WESTERN HO.

TED SIMONS: AND A LOT OF MOVIE STARS HAVE STAYED THERE AS WELL. RIGHT NOW HOW MANY RESIDENTS IN THE WESTWARD HO?

MICHAEL SHAFER: 300 PEOPLE CALL IT HOME. IT IS OWNED BY A DEVELOPMENT COMPANY BASED IN RHODE ISLAND AND SPECIALIZES IN LOW-INCOME HOUSING. THEY'VE OWNED THE PROPERTY SINCE 1979. THE CATHEDRAL DEVELOPMENT GROUP HAS BEEN A GOOD STEWARD OF THE PROPERTY BUT THE NATURE OF THE FINANCING THAT IS AVAILABLE CALLED SECTION 8 HOUSING PROVIDES VERY, VERY LITTLE SERVICE TO THE PEOPLE WHO CALL THAT PLACE HOME AND THE MOST QUALIFYING CHARACTERISTIC OF THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE IS THEY ARE POOR. THEY ARE ON THE LOWER END OF THE ECONOMIC SPECTRUM AND RANGE IN AGE FROM 23-ACTUALLY AN INDIVIDUAL IS A FORMER STUDENT OF ASU WHO HAS A DISABILITY- ALL THE WAY UP TO 84. THE VAST SPECTRUM IN THERE.

TED SIMONS: YOU HAVE AN INTRAPROFESSIONAL CLINIC GOING ON. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT? I WOULD IMAGINE MAYBE THEY DON'T HAVE FAMILY AROUND? LONELY? DISENGAGED? HOW DO ASU STUDENTS GET OVER THERE AND HELP THE SITUATION?

MICHAEL SHAFER: PART OF THE DEAL WE HAD TO CUT TO MAKE THIS AFFORDABLE VENTURE FOR ASU WAS TO CREATE A SUPPORTIVE HOUSING TAX CREDIT FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE OWNERS. THE OPPORTUNITY WE SAW WAS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR STUDENTS TO PRACTICE THE TRADE THEY ARE GOING INTO ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE CAMPUS. WE CREATED A SPACE AND THIS SEMESTER ALONE, OUR FIRST SEMESTER, RUNNING A FULL OPERATION WE HAVE 40 STUDENTS FROM NURSING, NUTRITION, RECREATIONAL THERAPY, SOCIAL WORK, CONDUCTING THEIR INTERNSHIP AND PRACTICUM HOURS WHILE MEETING THE PSYCHO-SOCIAL NEEDS OF THE TENANTS. THEY NEED HELP ON NAVIGATING SOCIAL SERVICES. TODAY WE HAD A GENTLEMEN IN THERE HAVING TROUBLE WITH HIS CELLPHONE. SO WE HAVE SEEN UPWARDS EVERY DAY OF 15-20 TENANTS THAT STOP IN, HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE. WE HAVE A YOGA GROUP GOING ON THAT IS BEING LED BY ONE OF THE TENANTS. IT IS WONDERFUL FOR OUR STUDENTS TO BECOME CONNECTED AND DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS WITH A MARGINALIZED PART OF SOCIETY.

TED SIMONS: THIS SOUNDS LIKE GOOD STUFF. YOU HAVE FOLKS IN NEED AND MAYBE JUST IN NEED OF HUMAN CONTACT. HAVING SOMEONE SHOW THEM ATTENTION AND THEY CARE IS A BIG DEAL. BUT FOR THOSE STUDENTS, MAYBE THEY ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH FOLKS THAT MIGHT BE OLDER, DIFFERENT GENERATIONS, COUPLE GENERATIONS REMOVED. MAYBE HAD HARDER TIMES. IT IS GREAT EXPERIENCE ALL THE WAY AROUND.

MICHAEL SHAFER: INDEED. WE SAW AS OUR PRIMARY OBJECTIVE HERE, TED, WAS TO CREATE A UNIQUE LEARNING OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR STUDENTS AND OUR EXPECTATION IS THE RESULT OF THESE EXPERIENCES, THESE STUDENTS WILL DEVELOP A LIFETIME PASSION FOR SERVING THE UNDERSERVED AND THE LESS FORTUNATE. I THINK IT IS VERY MUCH IN THE SPIRIT OF OUR SPIRIT OF SERVICE INITIATIVE WITHIN THE COLLEGE.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS WHAT THESE FOLKS AT THE WESTWARD HO, WHAT THEY NEED THE MOST -- WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS?

MICHAEL SHAFER: WHAT THEY WILL TELL YOU THEY NEED IS SOCIAL CONNECTION AND COMMUNITY. WE HAD A GRADUATE STUDENT FOUR YEARS AGO AND WE DID SURVEYS WITH 50 TENANTS AND THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE HAVE DECENT ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE-- BUT THEY DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO COMMUNITY, TO FAMILY AND SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE TO DO DURING THE DAY. THE VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE ARE DISCONNECTED FROM ECONOMIC ENTERPRISE IN TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT. AS A RESULT, WHAT I SEE OUTSIDE MY MAIN OFFICE WINDOW IS THE PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT, AND PHOENIX FIRE DEPARTMENT SHOWING UP THERE ABOUT EVERY OTHER DAY AND THEY SHOW UP OFTEN TIMES VERY, NOT CRIMINAL ACTIVITY BUT NUISANCE KINDS OF ISSUES BECAUSE THERE IS NO SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR MANY OF THE INDIVIDUALS TO FULFILL.

TED SIMONS: THIS SOUND LIKE A GREAT IDEA. HOW DID IT GET STARTED? WHAT WAS THE IDEA BEHIND THIS?

MICHAEL SHAFER: WELL, YOU KNOW, WHEN I JOINED ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY AND CAME TO THE DOWNTOWN CAMPUS AND DROVE BY THE BUILDING AND SAW THE TENANTS SITTING OUTSIDE AND I SAID THOSE ARE MY PEOPLE. THOSE ARE THE KIND OF PEOPLE STUDENTS IN SOCIAL WORK AND RECREATIONAL THERAPY NEED TO HAVE AN EXPERIENCE TO. IT IS CONSISTENT WITH WHAT WE HAVE DOWN IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA. YOU WALK ACROSS URBAN PARK TO THE Y, THE PARTNERSHIP WE CREATED WITH THE Y. THIS IS JUST ANOTHER EXTENSION OF THE MISSION OF ASU AT THE DOWNTOWN CAMPUS.

TED SIMONS: WE HAVE NURSING, NUTRITION, SOCIAL WORK, PSYCHO-SOCIAL SITUATION GOING ON. WHAT ELSE?

MICHAEL SHAFER: WELL OUR PLANS ARE TO BRING IN OTHER DISCIPLINES. WE HAVE CONVERSATIONS GOING ON WITH COLLEAGUES OVER IN TEMPE, IN THE HUGH DOWN SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION WHERE THERE IS FACULTY WITH EXPERTISE IN HEALTH LITERACY. WITH THE LAW SCHOOL, WE ARE MOVING TOWARD CREATING A LAW CLINIC SO WE CAN HAVE LAW STUDENTS HELPING OUT. OUR HOPE IS BEGINNING IN THE NEXT ACADEMIC YEAR WE OPEN UP THE COLLABORATORY ON CENTRAL CLINIC TO MORE THAN JUST THE TENANTS. A LOT OF THE STREET PEOPLE THAT WANDER UP AND DOWN CENTRAL PROVIDE A RICH OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE THAT CRAFT.

TED SIMONS: STARTING TO SEE MORE RESPONSE AND ENGAGEMENT FROM THE FOLKS?

MICHAEL SHAFER: WE ARE KEEPING A TICK UP ON THE NUMBER OF NEW FACES COMING INTO THE CLINIC. WE DID AN ICE CREAM SOCIAL IN JULY AND PROBABLY HAD 150 TENANTS SHOW UP. IT WAS WONDERFUL.

TED SIMONS: THIS IS GREAT WORK. VERY ENCOURAGING AND WONDERFUL TO HEAR. CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR SUCCESS. FRIDAY IS THE JOURNALIST ROUNDTABLE AND ACT INSPECTOR GENERAL FINDS PROBLEMS WITH THE VETERANS HOSPITAL AND THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN SAFETY REJECTS KEY PARTS OF AN AUDIT. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I AM TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

Michael Shafer, professor, School of Social Work at ASU's College of Public Service and Community Solutions

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