On each first Tuesday of the month, various members of agencies between Red Deer, Lacombe and Lacombe County all meet to create connections necessary to build the community.
These interagency meetings are held at Neighborhood Place in Lacombe, and include a wide variety of organizations. The purpose of these meetings is to get people face-to-face, discussing issues in the region and to develop connections to best address those issues.
Barb Walker of Neighborhood Place has been participating and facilitating the meetings for eight years. She said it has been a great way to develop connections to the surrounding agencies.
“People find it easier to give help and to ask for help when they feel connected to the person – that is agencies as well as clients,” she explained.
“The biggest thing about this is that we learn from each other as people, as well. For Neighborhood Place, this means that when we are referring a client somewhere in the community, it’s to a person, not just a place. It’s so much better if I can say, go and talk to Sandi at the City – she’s doing this and can help you, rather than saying, go to the City of Lacombe. It makes all of the difference.”
The range of agencies and organizations that participate in the discussions vary from members of the City of Lacombe, to employees of the John Howard Society in Red Deer.
Additionally, there are health professionals, social services workers, various Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) members and more.
The meetings are an open forum where members enjoy a lunch together as they introduce themselves, their organization and what any needs or accomplishments might be. It’s an opportunity for agencies to develop connections that help to raise the quality of life of people in Lacombe, organizers say.
Char Lockhart of Central Alberta Youth Unlimited (CAYU) and the YU-Turn Centre said she feels the meetings are a great way to build connections.
“I think one of the great things about the meetings is that it enables us to be connected to one another. There is such a large amount of resources in Lacombe, but we don’t all know each other, and we’re all working within a certain scope. We don’t always know the right questions to ask,” she said.
“You come here, and you have somebody say what they do, and all of a sudden it ignites another question or idea about how you could fit together. It might not even be a good fit for you, but you might know someone else that could benefit from that.”
The meetings usually run about an hour, depending on the amount of agency representatives present.
For those wishing to be a part of the initiative, all one must do is attend the scheduled meetings, and add their information to the contact sheet.
Lockhart said, “I also like the feeling of, hey, we’re in this together. We love this community, and we’re working together in this community and we get to come together to support the community – that’s the real gift of the interagency meetings.”