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Community resource center close to opening

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By DEBORAH GOAD

Correspondent

The Tri-County Community Resource Center is one step closer to opening its doors.

Diana Child, chair of the board at the Children's Partnership Council, was the guest speaker Friday at Chiefland's Chamber of Commerce meeting. Child outlined plans the Center has for the residents of Levy, Gilchrist and Dixie counties.  

While addressing the members of the Chamber, Child shared the various needs of families and how the numerous churches in the area were trying to meet those needs. Networking with the outreach programs, they were able to figure that out, she said. Working together, they could also recognize those individuals who took advantage and abused the generosities the church programs were offering.

"How many of you know how many food banks there are in Levy County?" she asked.  

The group was astounded to learn there are 13 food banks in Levy County. Child pointed out the problem is that a lot of people are unaware the food banks are out there. "If you don't know where a food bank is, how do you get to it?"  

The churches started compiling lists of resources and sharing this information with each other.  The churches then learned about Partnership for Strong Families.

Partnership for Strong Families started attending their meetings and invited them to come and see its resource centers in Gainesville. The Southwest Advocacy Group Center (SWAG) and The Library Partnership are two of the three resource centers in Gainesville.  

Partnership For Strong Families partnered with the Casey Family Program to launch the centers  in Alachua County in 2009. Since the opening of the resource centers, the number of children removed from homes as a result of abuse and neglect has dropped 76 percent in Alachua County compared to a 46 percent reduction in the other 13 counties Partnership for Strong Families covers.  

According to Jenn Petion, director of community and government relations with Partnership for Strong Famililies, child abuse is preventable ― a family knows when they need help.  They can receive help from the resource center without stigma or fear of negative consequences.

The Chiefland center will offer an array of services to help families avoid a crisis or respond to a crisis.

The Children's Partnership Council has been in place for over a year in the Tri-County Area.  With approximately 68 members consisting of community leaders, child care advocates, clergy, law enforcement, education, medical, health, judicial, financial and mental health advocates.  Their mission:  Gain a better understanding of the additional resources needed to serve the vulnerable and at-risk children and families in Gilchrist, Levy and Dixie counties and collaborate with others to fill the gaps.  

Planned services offered will include, but not be limited to: budget management classes, job search assistance, computer access for job search and online classes, tutoring, help with applying for public assistance, rug/alcohol prevention programs, counseling, connections to available resources such as food banks, clothing, housing, legal, healthcare and transportation, carpooling connections that have been background checked, communications/administrative services such as phone, fax and notary public

Tri-County Resource Center is hoping to open it's doors in late November or early December.  It will be located at 15 N. Main St. in Chiefland in the John Fisher Building (the old city hall building).  Partnership for Strong Families provides a small amount of funding for the resource centers but the center will rely mostly on the generosity of individuals and organizations.  

If you would like to make a cash donation or a donation of office supplies, children's books or other items, arrangements can be made by calling 352-493-4627.  Volunteer assistance is also needed.  Please visit their Facebook page at Tri-County Community Resources or call 352-493-4627.

The City of Chiefland has agreed to let the Tri-County Community Resource Center use the building for no charge on a temporary basis.  The Resource Center will be responsible for utilities, insurance and salaries.  A cleanup day will be Saturday, Aug. 30, from 9 a.m.-noon.

To volunteer call Diana Child at 352-493-4627,