Natural order dictates not just strength in numbers, but also strength in harnessing those numbers into unified purpose.

All Northwest Indiana government bodies and nonprofit organizations must learn this lesson if our Region is to speak with the strongest possible voice from the most advantageous ground.

Central to that lesson is shedding archaic, and frankly imaginary, turf boundaries so we all can realize and unite behind common purpose.

Look no further than a recent move by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County as a distinct lesson in this absolute truth.

Prior to Jan. 1, the two separate organizations were operating no less than 10 clubs with the admirable charge of enabling children to reach their full potential as productive and responsible citizens.

We can think of few organizations that have been perennially better at propping up and giving civic purpose to youth, particularly in disadvantaged areas, than Boys & Girls Clubs.

Operating apart, however, the two Region sects of this national umbrella group weren't as strong as they could be — as unified in purpose as the youth they served deserved.

Officials of the Lake and Porter county chapters had the foresight to realize this and the wisdom and willingness to act.

On New Year's Day, the two organizations, and their 10 individual clubs, merged into one common organization.

The net result is a unified colossus serving 10,000 children, a combined staff of 200 and hundreds of Region volunteers now working toward a single regional goal.

Shared administrative overhead will create efficiencies, allowing more money to be channeled into the high-quality programs that make Boys & Girls Clubs so effective in their mission.

Now, the organizations will be competing as one for charitable giving, grants and other financial support.

Beyond good business sense is the combined collateral of one civic-minded purpose.

The number and quality of programs just got better for all 10,000 children.

It's a perfect New Year's lesson for the many scattered foundations, philanthropic groups and local government in Northwest Indiana.

How many individual foundations provide grants within the confines of community boundaries in Northwest Indiana? How much stronger could those organizations' voices and purposes become if they united?

And how many layers of unnecessary or outmoded government does Northwest Indiana — and our greater state — possess, with some of those government units dating back to a horse-and-buggy model?

In a similar vein, how many elected offices would be better served under consolidated departments with qualified professional, versus popularly elected, supervision?

Region Boys & Girls Clubs have decided to define 2018 as a year of strength through the consolidation of common purpose.

This resolution should spread like wildfire to local government, community foundations and, in some cases, state legislators who should be doing a better job of working toward elimination and consolidation of some local government bodies.

The next stage of Region growth lies in realizing, and acting, on the needs of our common purpose.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Local News Editor Marc Chase, Lake County Editor Crista Zivanovic, Porter/LaPorte County Editor Doug Ross and Deputy Local Editor Erin Orr.