Rotary Club learns about Family Connection

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Vickie McEntire, coordinator of Family Connection of Gordon County, speaks to members of the Calhoun Rotary Club recently.
Photo by Daniel Bell

By Daniel Bell

Family Connection of Gordon County is just one part of a 159-county network called Georgia Family Connection Collaborative, the only statewide network of its kind, and that collaboration is key, coordinator Vickie McEntire told members of the Calhoun Rotary Club recently.

“By bringing everyone together, we could better understand and address the most pressing concerns of communities and partners across Georgia,” McEntire said. “This gives us a unique vantage point — not only to see the big picture, but also to operate effectively at a local level.”

Family Connection was born out of a 1990 Kids County Data Book that ranked Georgia as the 48th state in the nation for children and family well-being. Kids Count is a project funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that tracks the status of American children.

State leaders at the time, including Gov. Zell Miller, were inspired to action by the low ranking and realized the private and public sectors needed to work together to improve the lives of children families in Georgia. What resulted was the Family Connection network.

“The Gordon collaborative brings together, at the same table, the social worker, the nurse, the teacher, the minister, the businessperson, the public servant and parents. We discuss our vision for our community, assess the needs in our county, then decide how we can best work together to meet those needs,” McEntire said.

The program began in 1991 with a two-year pilot program in 15 counties. Because of the success those programs experienced, services were rolled out to other counties, and Family Connection in of Gordon County launched in 1994. In 2004 the statewide network became complete as it reach all counties in Georgia.

Throughout the years, Family Connection of Gordon County has distributed more than 30,000 Gordon County Resource Directories, promoted heating assistance programs, free lunch programs, worked with homeless families, food pantries and Christmas programs. Representatives attend and promote training events that cover mental health, nutrition, personal safety, healthy relationships, internet safety and more.

McEntire listed more than a dozen programs, events and partnerships the organization works with to benefit Gordon County residents, and she touted the most recent Kids County Data Book that listed Georgia in 38th place.

“That’s great progress, but there is still more work to be done,” she told the Rotarians, “We hope you — as leaders of the our community — will continue with us to bring about the change needed for lasting success for our children, families and community.

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