Families come in all types and sizes, but they have one thing in common: they’re a team, with each member possessing unique skills and personalities. While at any given time it may seem that one member is more important than others, it’s vital that every family member is healthy, secure, and has opportunities to succeed.
Local family programs offered by our health and social service agencies are in place to help families function successfully in the community. These programs provide social, health, emergency, and educational resources. Counseling, disaster services, emergency shelter, respite care, parenting classes, family activities, and outreach services are just a few parts of the family support structure in place in our community.
Families provide their team members with a sense of belonging, a source of emotional support and comfort, warmth and nurturing, and protection and security. Families are so much more than just groups of individuals; they’re our first sense of “home”—the first place where every child and adult should feel he or she is important and can pursue dreams.
According to the United Way’s 2005 Community Assessment, 19 percent of families living in the tri-county area earn less than $25,000 annually, compared to the state average of 17 percent. Fewer families are at the top of the income scale, with 14 percent of the tri-county area reporting incomes of $100,000 or more, compared to 18 percent for the entire state.
United Way allocation volunteers have reviewed the Community Assessment’s research and have recommended focusing additional funding on the following issues affecting local families: programs that help “at risk” families who fall below poverty line standards, programs that assist the area’s growing Hispanic population, and programs that help increase literacy among adults and children.
Every parent knows it takes hard work to keep a family going. Adults caring for both their children and older parents know the struggle to keep life balanced. Yet, as important as this caring and sharing is to the family structure, these roles aren’t always easy to assume. This is when the caring and sharing functions of the community take center stage by providing outlets of support.
Many of us realize there are core values that must be in place within our families for them to thrive. Communication, trust, partnership, purpose, vision, and commitment are essential to every family member. To be a healthy community, it’s fundamental that families are offered programs ranging from crisis intervention to opportunities for rehabilitation and self-improvement.
A community, just like a family, is also a team with the social service industry, our arts organizations, educational systems, and many others playing important roles in the success of our families. Together, we can help our families get through the tough times, enjoy the good times, and know they matter. IBI