The short but meaningful quote, “CEF is for doers,” graces the top of the information sheet handed out at CEF’s New Member Orientations. Led by CEF alumni Dorothy and Tony, this hour-long session is exactly what it sounds like: a place for new members to become familiar with the resources offered by CEF. And by simply attending this meeting, they are already taking their first steps as doers.
Sarah Cohn has been instrumental in helping create and jumpstart this new program. She says that it came about because many people were coming into the office having been introduced to CEF in many different ways. Because of this, Sarah said, “people had varying understandings of what CEF membership looked like.” If you’ve ever seen CEF on a busy day, you will understand how a proper introduction to who we are and what we offer can easily slip through the cracks.
New Member Orientation is a work-in-progress, with kinks being worked out as the program continues. For now, the basic structure of the session consists of two parts: an introduction to the idea of member-advocate relationships, and an explanation of programs and services available to members. As Sarah said, “we’re more than open to suggestions!” However, after attending the orientation myself, it seems to be going off without a hitch. Introductions at commencement allow each person to be heard and recognized, and after the program explanations by Dorothy and Tony, there is plenty of time for questions from new members about specifics. When asked about the benefits of this program, Dorothy said that new members “get to ask more questions that they might not get to ask with their advocate.” She explained that there might be some intimidation in meeting someone new, and New Member Orientation allows the opportunity for an informal and holistic introduction to the services provided by CEF. There is even the chance to schedule one’s first appointment right after orientation! Talk about getting off on the right foot.
Current members in attendance heralded CEF for its ability to hold you accountable, provide a place to be heard, and, of utmost importance, give you somebody to walk with in the journey to reach your goals. Sarah reflected on what her hopes are for this program: “With the new orientation serving as a universal introduction point, we hope that everyone will get the most they can out of CEF by knowing in full detail what’s available to them – especially the relationship base of what we do.”