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A Publication of WTVP

Changes in norms, values, the economy, and the health of the elderly can, over time, influence how people organize their lives—and ultimately, their family composition. While families have experienced marked changes in the past years, one thing has remained constant, and that’s the synergistic link between the health and well being of a family and the positive growth of the community they call home.

It would be simple to look at our local social service industry and talk about the programs that directly affect families—such as counseling, crisis intervention, emergency shelter assistance, and family-oriented activities—but the real truth is the ideals of strengthening families, and in turn our community, permeate several of the programs and services offered. From senior counseling that helps children of older parents deal with the issues of being in a sandwich generation, to employment readiness programs that help individuals become independent and support their families, there are several resources available to help families of all definitions function successfully in the community.

Families are much more than just a group of individuals. Families come in all sizes, colors, and shapes. But most importantly, families are the one place where love and acceptance are found. Families are like a team, with each person playing an important position for the game, and by supporting our home teams, we as a community become stronger together.

The family is an essential part of everyday society. As the first, and frequently the last, source of support for individuals, our family defines who we are. And our families are defined by economic situations, geographical locations, moral beliefs, cultural values, and past personal experiences. The everyday problems faced by families have, of course, changed with the times, and it’s important to understand the needs of the whole family.

By adopting a family-centered approach to community development, we ensure the components needed for families to feel they can meet the basic needs of safety, food, education, emotional support, and health care. Families can succeed when their community support systems are strong.

So how do we build strong communities and strengthen our families? We need to support the workers on the frontline—the teachers, social workers, health practitioners, and community service workers who work with our youth and their families to build for a better tomorrow. The ability of our families to successfully fulfill their needs depends, to a great extent, on the opportunities available through the social systems of the community. By empowering our families, we enable them to provide for their children from early childhood into adulthood, and we create a source of hope and optimism for our community’s future. IBI

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