When agencies work together, they create stronger community ties and help further their mission and goals.
“Collaborating with the other agencies in our communities that share our vision of creating long-lasting change is truly the key to making substantial and sustainable impact. This kind of impact doesn’t occur in silos; the synergies of many resources is vital,” said Kris Pate, executive director of the United Way of LaPorte County. “We see ourselves as a convener and supporter of service providers in our county.”
Rachel Niemi, director of Dayspring Women’s Center in Valparaiso, said partnerships help Dayspring better serve the women and children who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“Collaboration is very important to Dayspring’s mission in providing a safe haven for women struggling with homelessness. The individuals we help are unique and the causes for their homelessness are varied,” Niemi said. “Therefore, it is important for us to have a wide range of supportive relationships with others. We work diligently to provide holistic care for the women we serve and we could not accomplish that without support and assistance from other providers within our community.”
Dayspring works with organizations such as Porter County Family Counseling Center, Open Arms Women’s Overnight Shelter and HealthLinc.
“One way in which Dayspring and the Porter County Family Counseling Center are working to strengthen both of our programs is by forming a strategic alliance in which we are currently sharing managerial and administrative staff,” Niemi said. “This is providing both agencies with much needed support for all those ‘behind the scenes’ tasks that each agency does to ensure that its programming continues to run efficiently and that the staff’s time is maximized to maintain and expand a high standard of service provision.
“We work closely with Open Arms (an emergency overnight shelter for women) to provide them with intake and evaluation for each client entering into their overnight shelter. Our relationship with Open Arms is reciprocal in that we provide day treatment for the women in need of overnight assistance and work to help them move towards stability and success.”
The United Way connects with many agencies across the county including the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, Meals on Wheels, the YMCA and Harmony House.
“We seek to mobilize the caring power of our community to respond to local needs in a coordinated and collaborative way. The entire community benefits from this approach simply because it’s so much more effective in the long-run. We make a ‘place’ for everyone in our approach to change,” Pate said. “By taking part in efforts to improve the quality of life in LaPorte County, each individual has the opportunity to feel invested and to know that their efforts are an important piece of a completed puzzle.”
Niemi said the group effort not only helps region organizations but also the individuals seeking assistance.
“It is vitally important that agencies are working with one another as much as possible to provide comprehensive services to those in need. Not only is collaboration important so that there is not a duplication of efforts, but it is also important that we are not making the system of receiving support overly complex or daunting for those in need of our help,” Niemi said.
“Asking for help can be difficult enough and at Dayspring we try to make the steps to receiving help easier by assisting women in creating connections with agencies with which we have built good relationships.”
“Throughout the Northwest Indiana region we share so many of the same concerns. When we work together on common issues with a regional approach, there are many significant benefits,” Pate added. “Best practices are shared so that we are learning from one another instead of wasting time reinventing the wheel.”