At MOKA, we see value in a wide array of perspectives and believe in the power of collaboration with our community partners. Sharing our work and making connections in the community is the heart of how we will continue to impact and grow an inclusive West Michigan. In this spirit of partnership, MOKA is thrilled to be in our second year of collaboration with Grand Rapids Community College’s (GRCC) Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Program (COTA) to identify enhancements for our residential homes.  

GRCC COTA students had the opportunity to visit two of MOKA’s licensed Adult Foster Care homes to identify ways to improve the lives of the people who live and work at our homes. During their visit, they spoke with several staff members and people living in the home to gain insight into the challenges that are faced by people served and the staff that support them. Using their observations and knowledge of occupational therapy, the class shared a presentation with recommendations for our team to consider.  

The presentation was thorough, constructive, and thought-provoking.  Each student demonstrated a well-honed sense of empathy and understanding, taking into account the perspectives of both direct support professionals and residents when generating the suggestions.  They provided ideas tailored to each home, some specific to individuals, and several recommendations that could be universally implemented in all MOKA’s residential homes. 

This collaboration continues to be informative and valuable for MOKA employees and GRCC students. The students’ instructor, Lynda Jansen, noted that the experience gave them “a sense of how their recommendations as OT practitioners bring real value to individuals and organizations.” MOKA’s Executive Director, Tracey Hamlet, praised the students’ suggestions as “logical, practical, and extremely valuable.” In fact, some of the recommendations were implemented within hours following the presentation.  

Moving forward, MOKA leaders plan to discuss the students’ recommendations in depth. We will analyze the recommendations and decide which ones align most closely with our strategy for impact and those that can be feasibly implemented. The students will receive updates on the progress being made because of their suggestions. We are extremely proud of this ongoing relationship and the difference Grand Rapids Community College COTA students are making in the lives of MOKA employees and people we support. We look forward to collaborating with their COTA Program in the future and can’t wait to see the impact their work will have on the lives of the people we serve and our employees. 

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