At a time of expected cuts in social service spending by governments on every level due to budgetary constraints, the public—in some cases—can find quicker and more efficient results by turning to each other.
That is what the Community Resource Network is doing in Marion County. The network is part of the county’s Community Services Department. It is a web-based network that connects resources to unmet needs through information sharing. It is not a bureaucracy, it is people helping people.
An example cited by Tamra Goettsch, director of the Community Services Department, is about a goat. A young girl in the county, in a family of limited means, wanted to join 4H. She chose raising a goat as her project. In her situation, purchasing a goat was not possible. The word went out on the Community Resource Network and within a few days the girl had a goat for her project. There was little muss, little fuss; a girl needed a goat, the word went out, someone had a goat and a goat went to the girl for her project.
Not all needs are as easily met as matching a young girl with a goat for a 4H project. Not every connection needs to be earth-shattering. Businesses and non-profit organizations licensed to do business in Oregon can join the network. On the network members announce their surplus resources—coats, beds, bedding, toiletries, books, backpacks—items that most of us take for granted but are at times out of reach of the less fortunate in our community.
Though the county department oversees the network, it operates mostly with the input of its members. There are hundreds of good reasons join the network, the most important being that it helps others in our community in the most basic way—person to person.
The Community Resource Network can be especially powerful to help the most vulnerable—children in need. Membership gains access to the information about need, it does not beholden a member to a long-term commitment and certainly no financial commitment. As summer begins, there may be businesses and individuals who have quality, gently used jackets and coats that can be matched now for use by kids next fall and winter. Those coats and jackets may be the only goods shared by that organization, but at the time it means the world to the recepient.
We are always big supporters of people helping each other with the least amount of government involvement. The Community Resource Network is the vehicle that should be supported by businesses, non-profits and indiviuals alike.