Blount County citizens who helped bring the Hope House Family Service Mall to fruition receive special recognition from Governor Bob Riley last week in Montgomery: (from left): David Standridge, Charles Carr, Wendell Ellis, Riley, Bud Jones, Elizabeth Wilson, Marsha Parker, and John Dobson.
The mall is one of 10 family services centers in the state certified as a part of the Governor’s Task Force to Strengthen Alabama Families. The plan is to certify a family services center in every county in the state by 2010.
Such a center is a clearing house for human services in its county where people can have their needs assessed and get referrals to a comprehensive array of agencies: the state Department of Human Resources, United Way, Red Cross, community action, church ministries, juvenile services, and health and mental health providers, among others.
The Blount County mall consolidates under one roof providers of services for families, juveniles, and low income citizens with other services clustered in separate buildings within easy walking distance. The concept is that this proximity factor will streamline and connect assessment, referral, and delivery processes, making it much easier for people to avail themselves of services offered by many different agencies.
Each center had to meet a detailed set of 18 criteria in order to be certified. Criteria focus on clearly-defined goals, demonstrated community involvement and buy-in, and a strong business foundation. – Ron Gholson