Wayne Family Coalition offers support not bandaids
The cycle those in need often find themselves in is a vicious one.
Being offered assistance of just enough to get by, never enough to get ahead and truly make changes.
That cycle of ‘bandaid-ing,’ as Misty Beair called it, is the reason behind the first meeting of what would later become the Wayne Family Coalition.
“In October of 2016, our ministerial association in town, school personnel, food pantries all sat down. We talked about the rapidly changing demographics in Wayne, how we have a lot of food insecure homes and households in poverty. We have a lot of families we are bandaid-ing but not helping to get out of that cycle,” Beair said.
Those first meetings also included members of the Norfolk Family Coalition who were invited over to discuss what their group looked like.
After visiting with them, a decision to model the Wayne group after Norfolk’s was made.
“For the following year we focused on our goals and how we would get money, how we would establish a real position here when we were all just volunteers in the first place,” Beair said. “It took a year and two months before we were able to get funding.”
The Wayne United Way offered $2,000 in grant funds to help get the group started. This was followed by a $20,000 grant from the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.
But getting funds was only part of the problem. Deciding how to use them was a whole different issue.
“We got this money but we really didn’t know what to do from there. We needed to find a focus for that money and a human to do that job. We were stewing over that when Julie Rother at the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department offered to be that for us.”
There are two bilingual staff members at the department, Georgina and Victor, as well as Peggy Triggs who have all played an instrumental role in this process and keeping the program up and running, Beair said.
Public Health already handles the medical component, so it was a good way for them to expand their services.
The group that meets monthly now serves as the overseeing board to the coalition.
“We watch the number of families being helped, whether it’s short or long term help and we look at expenditures. We have groups come from all over to present their services to us. This helps us make sure we are aware of the services out there so we can provide fast resources for families to utilize.”
While a vast majority of the money goes toward families with children under 13 years old, the coalition doesn’t turn anyone away.
“Some of this money goes toward people who don’t fit that criteria,” Beair said. “We don’t exclude anyone so this can help the elderly or people who don’t have children.”
In the month of April alone, the Wayne Family Coalition helped 14 families, including 19 children.
Those families and the help they received are documented and presented in reports during each monthly meeting.
Sitting at those monthly meetings include representatives of the Wayne Ministerial Association, Haven House, Emergency Response Team, NENCAP, DHHS, HeadStart, Food Pantry, Mobile Food Bank, Behavioral Health, Salvation Army, Wayne County Housing Authority, Wayne School District and anyone else who wants to come.
Each group gives an update on what’s happening with them, Beair said, what funding they may have
It’s because of so many taking part in the coalition that additional services have been able to be established or reestablished in Wayne.
For example, the Food Commodity Program for elderly had no location in Wayne so 24 individuals were forced to get to Hartington to pick up food.
When the coalition was informed of this, a program many weren’t even aware of, they found a location in Wayne for the program to distribute from. Those 24 individuals no longer have to get to Hartington and more individuals who truly had no means to make it to Hartington will now have the opportunity to have food assistance available to them.
As for reestablishment, the Salvation Army hasn’t been working in Wayne, but thanks to the coalition, that group is being reestablished here.
The group is determined to help as many as possible in the community, Beair said, and stand as its own entity while doing so.
“We are looking at additional grant funds in the state of Nebraska that we can apply for,” she said. “Eventually we will pull back from Norfolk and stand on our own but Norfolk has been instrumental in helping us.”
Beair said that the Wayne Community was unique and generous, something the coalition has benefitted greatly from.
“We have an incredibly giving community and we feel like our community can support families in need rather than have them in the bandaid cycle.”
One instance included a group of students working on being better leaders.
“One Leadership Wayne Class helped us get an online page with a list of all the services available. There is a link from the city page to it.”
Each family’s and individual’s needs are different, but the coalition does its best to meet every need presented to it.
But like Beair said, it’s not about a quick fix.
“Our goals is to keep families out of that cycle. We want to truly help families by coaching and meeting needs, making plans and budgeting and offering parenting classes. We have an intake list we go over with them when they first come to us to determine where we can help.”
With support from so many community agencies and the hard work of those involved, it’s not surprising the services that have been utilized and the families that have been helped continues to grow.
For information on how you can help, visit a monthly meeting of the Wayne Family Coalition on the first Monday of each month at 9 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Wayne.