TEAM APPROACH: Interagency Network of Hunt County
by Berniece Reeves Brown, Coordinator of Social Services, Community Health Service Agency, and a DFG Board Member who serves as the Interagency Network Chairperson
The Interagency Network of Hunt County began in 1989 after several resident experts participated in a DrugFree Greenville kick-off town hall meeting. A dozen agency representatives got together to help move beyond the “blame game” regarding helping the people of Hunt County. During the initial introductions folks were repeatedly heard saying, “I didn’t know you did that!” Finally the question was asked if the agencies would like to continue meeting once a month. The resounding answer was yes and the Interagency Network was born.
DrugFree Greenville agreed to sponsor the Network because of the vital drug prevention component provided by health and service agencies working together. Today the Interagency Network has over 200 members representing some 80 agencies and service providers. Many are nonprofits but not all. However, we all believe that when a person needs our services not only is that individual, but also their family, at risk for multiple problems. By working together, sharing ideas and finding common solutions, we provide clients with the best possible service and care while building a better community.
The Inter-Agency Network meets the first Tuesday of each month excluding July, and meets at DrugFree Greenville located at 4207 Wesley Street. Approximately thirty to forty agencies gather monthly from 10:00 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. A typical meeting begins with two pre-scheduled agency presentations showcasing their organizations and services. This is followed by introductions of all in attendance and a short description of each agency. The meetings also allow an opportunity to put a face to a voice, to gain information on how to access services, learn about upcoming events and most importantly to learn how we can work together for the betterment of our community. These informal meetings are open to anyone and unlike other interagency groups in other counties there is no membership fee.
The meetings are informal is style, but well organized and a treasure trove of priceless information. If you walked into the middle of a meeting in progress, you might hear joking and laughing, because the “regulars” become friends. All the members though different, are in the business of helping those who often don’t have the financial or emotional ability to help themselves. Many work long hours for little or no pay; a few are simply and wonderfully full-time volunteers who go where they feel they are needed. Business cards are exchanged and some gaps in service are closed and Hunt County is a better place for it.
The goal is to help each other serve those who need our services. Time and time again working partnerships are formed during the meetings themselves when one agency describes a need and another one steps up with a possible solution. Duplication and identifying gaps in services remains a priority. Because the Network continues to grow in size and strength, agency representatives now come from the surrounding counties as well, including Dallas, Collin, Kaufman, Raines, Fannin, Delta and Grayson. The Interagency Network sponsored for 23 years by DrugFree Greenville, continues to share the good news that in Hunt County we are unusually fortunate to have such a large number and diversity of local services. Meetings will resume August 2. You are encouraged to come, listen and learn.