Our area is fortunate to have a loosely organized group of professionals who meet once a month for lunch.  All of the agencies, businesses, individuals present work with and for families.  To “update” each other is the official description of why we gather.

          We share and hear of new grants for a new service to assist families struggling with addiction problems, of funds for heating assistance that have been completely expended before winter is ended, of delivery schedules for mobile food pantry trucks, of how the recent government shut-down affects low-income families.  My office shares info on youth opportunities available through 4-H, of ways to stretch a food budget dollar, of an educational class being offered.

          In between all the info shared and the handouts distributed, something else is shared.  Many agencies that provide services to families operate on soft funds of grants or government funds that need to be approved for funding each and every congressional session.  Applying for grants requires letters of support and signed agreements from other agencies to work with the sponsoring agency.  Successful grants require documentation of deeds done, of goals met, of people reached.  Finding that support and then proving on paper there was a result (never mind what you saw or felt!) is not an easy task.

          In some areas of the state, that proving turns into a competition. Duplication of services or evaluating which needs are unmet and so are most needed - is not a concern – survival of an agency is.  For this Lake Region group though – “What do you need? When is your deadline?” are the questions asked and for which answers are freely given. The support offered to families by the agencies is of great value.  The support offered to each other so excellent programs continue is equally invaluable.