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Boston College School of Social Work
Center for Social Innovation

"The Social Innovation Lab at BC has given The Home For Little Wanderers a process to guide our team in its efforts to develop innovations we think will transform the lives of the young people we serve through our Young Adult Resource Network."

—Joan Wallace-Benjamin, president and CEO of the Home for Little Wanderers


Collaborating with the CSI through the Social Innovation Lab:

A Q&A with The Community Family Executive Director Anne M. Marchetta, MSW

AGENCY: The Community Family, a leader in the field of adult day health services, was among the inaugural group of social service agencies to participate in the School of Social Work’s Social Innovation Lab.

LAB: The guided, nine-month learning experience, in which the Center for Social Innovation (CSI) partners with a team of agency employees, helped Community Family develop a novel, multi-faceted approach to serving the growing population of people with early Alzheimer’s Disease.

BC Social Work adjunct professor Anne Marchetta, MSW ’80, who is executive director of the Community Family, described their CSI Lab experience.

Q: What attracted you to the Social Innovation Lab?

A: It offered us a new way to address an issue we had been thinking about for a while and a way to commit to moving forward. We were interested in the lab’s approach and its emphasis on a quick pace. It also gave us the opportunity to get feedback from others who bring a completely different perspective to our issue.

Q: How was the lab experience different from other approaches to program development the Community Family has pursued?

A: It was much more creative than other problem-solving methods we have used. The orientation, in particular, showed us a fresh perspective on brainstorming and generating new ideas. We do not often have the opportunity to involve stakeholders from across the organization in a joint problem-solving effort. Having the lab’s ongoing support to make sure we were continuing in our process was very helpful.

Q: What ideas or directions is your organization pursuing as a result of the lab?

A: We were inspired by the lab’s use of technology and have started to incorporate more of it to involve our staff, board, and consumers in our organization. We have sponsored seven educational seminars on early stage Alzheimer’s and are recruiting members for two educational/support groups. We are also discussing changing some of our programming to fit the unique needs of this population.