Visioning & Fayette’s non-profits
By Cathy Berggren and Sheryl Watford
For many of us, Fayette County has been our home for many years. It is truly a “place to call home.” Just like the rest of our world, we have seen changes. Many of the changes have happened intentionally because of the role our leaders have played in looking ahead. We have the benefit of our hospital because of that insight and planning.
By now, you may have heard about the work of the Fayette Visioning Initiative once again, striving to intentionally plan for the future of our community.
Working in the non-profit arena seeking to care for our community, we recognize that change is inevitable. As our community changes in a variety of ways, the needs of the people change. Among them there are healthcare, employment, housing, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs that are constantly changing.
This change demands that the non-profit organizations stay educated, connected and willing to collaborate together working unified to build better lives and a stronger community.
We are fortunate to live and work in a community where the non-profit organizations have a history of working well together.
This collaborative mindset has brought programs such as Coordinated Collaborative Care (C3), established to partner multiple local agencies to provide a wide range of health and social services to our community.
After years of working together informally, these local partner organizations established coordinated resources to better serve targeted populations and streamline health and social services already in place.
And we are fortunate to be a part of a county where non-profits are supported by our chamber, local businesses, faith-based organizations, civic groups, schools and individuals that are committed to make a difference.
In the past five years alone, the Real Life Center and the Fayette Care Clinic have both seen tremendous growth, and have been able to manage this growth because of the support of our community partners.
The Visioning Initiative’s Competitive Assessment report has already been a great tool for those of us serving in local non-profit organizations. This information has enabled us to have current information specific to the populations we serve. Information such as age, race, ethnicity, availability and accessibility of employment and healthcare and education are key components in planning.
Understanding not just who we are currently serving, but who we are likely to serve in the future, assists in planning and projecting the needs we will face.
The Competitive Assessment revealed that Fayette County remains as one of the counties with the lowest poverty rate in Georgia. However; it is important to keep in mind that even as one of the lowest in the state and despite our population leveling out, our poverty rate has almost doubled within the last five to seven years.
To put that need in real numbers, consider that in 2007, the Real Life Center distributed approximately 59,000 pounds of food to families in need. In 2013, more than 420,000 pounds of food were distributed. These growing needs require the addition of programs and support services for targeted areas of the community.
In consideration of this data, Fayette County non-profits must plan for the future. It is imperative that we continue to coordinate our efforts to serve and engage the community. We must have a vision and a plan to continue to identify and inclusively address the needs of all of our citizens.
As fellow Fayette County citizens, we urge you to become a part of this visioning process. Your input is valuable.
You can share your thoughts in an online forum accessible at http://FayetteVision.MindMixer.com. Or please join us at a Fayette Visioning Initiative public meeting Wednesday, March 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sandy Creek High School auditorium.
Come out, share your ideas, meet your neighbors. Fayette County is OUR place to call home!
[Cathy Berggren is executive director of the Real Life Center, and Sheryl Watford is executive director of the Fayette Care Clinic. Both are members of the Fayette Visioning Initiative Steering Committee.]