The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Progress 2014

March 15, 2014

CDSA goal: Better lives

Organization strives to always help out, even if it’s not the aid that was expected

ENID, Okla. — Community Development Support Association is in the business of helping people.

From early childhood education to helping adults become self-sufficient and through community development efforts, CDSA’s mission is to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Still, Cheri Ezzell, the organization’s executive director, says not everybody who comes to CDSA gets the help they had hoped for.

“People get mad at us a lot,” she said. “They say, ‘I went to CDSA and they didn’t do anything for me.’ That’s true, that happens a lot. People come to us and we’re not able to give them what they want.”

If someone is homeless, for instance, and comes to CDSA needing housing assistance, they may not get money to help pay rent.

“Our funder has said ‘You can’t do it unless you show it’s going to make a difference in their life,’” said Ezzell. “Do they have a job and will they be able to pay the rent next month?”

If they can’t show that, Ezzell said, CDSA’s hands are tied — to a point.

“What we do then is try to help the person become employed,” she said, “give them some places where they can go and find work. If we can make them fit those guidelines, then we can find them a place to live, we can pay their first month’s rent.

“We’re always trying to make these decisions, about, does this make sense, will this make a difference for this person’s life?”

Thus, CDSA’s clients will get help from the agency, but perhaps not always the help they sought.

“There are gifts we can give people, if we’re good at what we do, that may not be what they came for,” Ezzell said.

To help improve its customer service, CDSA has implemented a series of customer service standards, based on its initials.

C stands for “Connect with a caring smile, greet with respect, move to a confidential setting.” D is for “Discover how we can help, deliver expert service, direct to others who can help.” S is “Show your commitment to serving others in every interaction,” while A stands for “Ask how else we can help take a holistic approach.”

“We are trying to change the way we serve people,” said Ezzell. “We want our people to understand they are held accountable to treat people really well when they come here, looking at the whole person.

“What can we do to make CDSA better? One thing we can do is to be kinder, and not just kindness but effectiveness and professionalism.”

Often, people seeking CDSA’s services are in a difficult place in their lives, Ezzell said.

“And sometimes they are hard to work with,” she said. “We have to remind ourselves continually the people we serve are here because they need us, and that’s our job.”

This “sea change,” in customer service, Ezzell said, is possible thanks to the fact CDSA’s many local arms have been, since the summer of 2012, under one roof in the Non-Profit Center in downtown Enid.

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Progress 2014
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