Last week I attended a Family Connection open “networking meeting” for the first time in several years.
That is really not an admission to make with pride, I suppose, since for two years I’ve served as county representative on the Region II MHDDAD Planning Board.
To be honest, I didn’t realize that I needed to go, because Community Service Board/Avita offered the resources. But I learned.
The group is serving an excellent purpose, filling at least some of the needs that have been articulated over the years, particularly one of communication among those who have resources to offer and those who are aware of people who need certain resources. The more people in both categories know about each other, the better the whole community is served.
From the RIC-Rack with its food pantry and clothing “store” to organizations dealing with families, children and adults who need special counseling, the needs have gone up as the economy has gone down — although some problems are not obviously connected with finances. Low funding is a worry for most programs, government and otherwise.
One that I hadn’t thought about very much is that concerning HIV. Surprisingly, the Southern HIV/AIDS Coalition says that the rural South is an area where new cases are on the rise, but where there is very little funding. We are more aware of the results of other low fundings.
It was good, however, to hear about some new after-school programs, especially some promoting health and fitness in addition to regular athletic teams.
It was also good to learn the Family Connection has been offered a new home now that Lanier Tech is expanding to include the building now housing that organization. (You will hear more about that in coming days.)
NOA (No One Alone) also now has more of a local presence and will soon hold an Open House. Although that organization, which offers safe shelter and support services for victims of domestic violence in both Dawson and Lumpkin counties, has its headquarters in Lumpkin, about 35 percent of the clientele is from Dawson. We should have more Dawson volunteers on that board.
CASA, an organization, which trains Court Appointed Special Advocates for children, is also working toward a permanent home, to be built in Hall County.
And I was glad to meet Dawson’s new program coordinator working with the AD (addictive diseases) element of the MHDDAD area of concern. (By the way, I will soon be turning my responsibility there back to Val Dodson — more about that later.)
The ones that I have mentioned were not the only groups represented at that networking session. It is with pride that I see the community spirit involved in many resources, public and private, that seek to make Dawson County a better place. I can remember when so many of them came into being; as the county grew, the needs outgrew the capability of families and churches to meet them.
High on the list of appreciation for Family Connection is the Resource Fair, which is being planned for Aug. 29 at Rock Creek Park. Preceding “Movies in the Park,” from 6-8:30 p.m., representatives from over 50 entities (community partners) will be there to give information about resources available to local families.
Now that should be wonderfully enlightening! Spread the word.
Helen Taylor’s column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.