Subject Area



This study will focus specifically on the transforming effects service agencies experience as they respond to the highly increased need in the surrounding community. A review of the literature reveals that recovery efforts cannot elicit the needed response and support without a sense of urgency that stems from the event(s) being considered an “emergency.” The lack of longevity of the initial urgency threatens the resiliency of the agency as the availability of funding and necessary attention is not maintained. A qualitative, exploratory study was conducted by interviewing ten individuals involved in the Rhode Island emergency winter shelter crisis and five involved in recent Gulf Coast emergencies, all of whom had participated either as employees at a service agency or through other in-depth involvement in the recovery efforts. The findings from this study confirm that the emergency response is demanding not only on the community but also on the service agencies as they are challenged to maintain general operations and service as funding and attention are redirected to newly arising demands. Transformation and changes take place in the internal structure of service agencies, personnel in both numbers and assigned tasks, and overall areas of attention the service agency provide, leading to either more effective practice or the downfall of the service agency due to unmanageable demands. Implications of this research study encourage further collaboration between service agencies and community partners working to respond due to the vastly limited resources available and the frequent and superfluous duplication of services.


Providence College


Spring 2011









A project based on independent investigation, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Originally written for the Theory Practice Seminar, Providence College, 2011.

Included in

Social Work Commons