County resource database list needed

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There are many free services and resources for families that many people don't even know about.

The need for a central database to list available resources for residents of Valencia County was the subject of a meeting held earlier this month at the Los Lunas Wellness Center.

Representatives from a dozen local organizations attended the meeting, including early childhood advocate Bart Regelbrugge, Lawanda Albright, Molly Grady and Wendy Wintermute of Teaching Solutions; Hilary Maez, regional leader of the Community Wellness Council; Marty Callahan, director of the village IT department and president of the Valencia County Chamber of Commerce; Angelica Boyle from the UNM-Valencia Campus Wellness Center; Carolyn Romero from St. Joseph Community Health; Rev. Robert Mundy from St. Matthew's Episcopal Church; and Ginny Adame, director of the village DWI program, and others.

Their efforts are to create an expansive resource website for Valencia County residents in order to make it easy for people to find all the help centers, social services and other assistance programs they may need.

Local organizations, non-profits, or businesses who have helpful contact lists and are willing to help in the effort are encouraged to attend the next meeting from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, at the Los Lunas Wellness Center at the Valencia "Y."

Everything from job search help to free food and clothing, legal services, child development centers, health care and mental health care services, and as many nonprofit and government assistance programs available are being collected for the site.

"Certainly I have struggled when families come in — they have not just one need, but 15," said Sallie VanCuren, the executive director of Valencia County Abundant Grace Free Store. "Anything from 'How do I get a prescription drug paid for,' to 'Where do I find something else that my family needs.'"

A statewide website called Share New Mexico at www.sharenm.org has already been established to consolidate public and private sector resource information about homelessness and hunger, health, education and early childhood.

"There is a page dedicated to Valencia County that you all could populate," said Albright, a partner with Teaching Solutions working on the Share New Mexico website.

But there isn't a Valencia County administrator for it yet, she said.

"I am more than happy to help develop the skills or the structure or whatever to do that," she said.

Teaching Solutions is a consulting firm that was awarded a McCune grant to provide support in establishing Share New Mexico, and is willing to help county members develop the Valencia County page, said Wintermute with Teaching Solutions.

Teaching Solutions will also provide a mock up of the Valencia County page at the meeting and encourages county members who are interested in helping design the web page to attend the meeting, Wintermute said.

The Valencia County group will decide whether or not to create an independent county website or just link to the Valencia County page on Share New Mexico at the meeting.

One of the challenges to the project is keeping the website listings current, and collecting the lists of resources.

"What Lenora and Share New Mexico are doing is setting up MOUs (memorandums of understanding) with all those groups, so it is kept up-to-date," Albright said.

Since most people have cell phones, it would be nice to be able to text something like "Valencia Help," and get connected to a website or a person that could help them, said Dan Ritchey, project director from TEACH, Early Childhood New Mexico.

Having a county resource phone number was also discussed, because making the resource guide accessible to all residents is another challenge. Several people in the county don't have computer access at home.

Producing a booklet of the resource directory is one idea the group suggested, and making the booklet available at the local libraries.

For more information about the next meeting, contact Bart Regelbrugge at 565-5913, or email him at regelbrugge.bart@yahoo.com.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.