Downtown Ambassador Pilot Program Embarks to Proactively Curb Violence and Create Welcoming Environment
Jul 11, 2019
A safe, clean and welcoming environment is paramount to the success of Downtown Cedar Rapids. Disturbance calls and recordable incidents in the downtown area have trended upwards in the last three years. A new, innovative pilot program that embarked recently aims to yield a decrease in general litter, alcohol/substance abuse related incidents, ambulance calls, and violent incidents in Greene Square and an increase in Greene Square visitors.
Five Downtown Ambassadors have been hired and began their new roles last month. Each Ambassador is now trained in First Aid/CPR, Naloxone handling and use, de-escalation tactics and mental health first aid.
Each of these individuals holds a passion for helping others and all were referred to the position for their history of empowering those around them. They have each experienced homelessness, whether sleeping outside or in a shelter, so they are truly able to provide peer support. While everyone’s situation is different, the Downtown Ambassadors have experienced similar situations to many of the individuals they work with, giving them a deeper understanding of their trauma, crisis and the daily struggles.
Ambassadors work in two shifts seven days a week. The first shift is from 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. and the second shift runs from 3:30 - 7:30 p.m. The overlap in times allows for Ambassadors to relay information from the previous shift that could impact the coming shift. There is one Ambassador on each shift Sunday – Wednesday and there are two ambassadors on shift Thursday – Saturday, days that typically see more activity.
Through building relationships, providing support to people during times of crisis, connecting individuals and families to local resources, pre-conflict resolution and keeping Downtown Cedar Rapids cleaner, the goal of Downtown Ambassador pilot program is to foster a friendly, welcoming and inclusive district for all to enjoy.