A new mother struggling in an isolated community asks, “Who can I turn to for help?” An elderly lady reflecting on her life’s experiences asks, “Who could benefit from my help?” How do we connect the dots?
Many people in rural communities are isolated by social, cultural or economic factors. Basic human needs that many people take for granted, such as food and clothing, health care, transportation and education are often impossible dreams, not reality. The geographic area of rural communities prohibits neighborly involvement. The lack of services contributes to poverty, illiteracy and domestic violence.
The FamilyShare program promotes family access to community support and services while addressing the roots of rural poverty. The FamilyShare program may include parenting classes, preschool programming, a food/clothing/diaper pantry, a resource library, and/or van transport. The program assesses and teaches a community how to build on its assets to strengthen its families. A family may be a senior woman who is a retired school teacher. A family may be a single mom who is having a hard time caring for a newborn.
LightShare partners with rural communities to develop FamilyShare programs connecting young and old to build community.
Community it serves
Candler (southwestern Buncombe County, NC)
The program in Candler, based on LightShare’s 2009 community assessment, includes the following:
Parenting Education for Women/Women Mentors
- A six month program of parenting classes and mentoring.
- The Incredible Years BASIC Parent Program will be the foundation of the parent education.
- The class sessions will include coaching the parents while they are playing with their children
- Mothers are paired with other women who offer general social support and to reinforce the learning from the parenting classes. (Connecting the retired teacher with the new mother.)
Part-Time Early Childhood Education
- Learning and play experiences for children ages birth to five
- Trained volunteers teach problem solving, language development, and social-emotional skill development.
- Every child has a well-child health and developmental screening
- Outside playtime promotes safe and healthy outdoor play.
The FamilyShare program also includes:
- Group lunches are offered weekly for all volunteers, mentors and participants
- Transportation is provided
- Health and wellness screenings for adults and children are offered by qualified professionals
The entire Candler Community will be offered these resources:
- LightShare feels strongly that every family should have access to basic needs such as food and clothing. Once these needs are met, then families can focus on strengthening their family situation.
- Family Resource Library includes books about parenting, aging and healthy child development. There are also “Together Time” toy boxes to facilitate developmental learning at home.
- Food/Diapers/Toiletries Pantry in parntership with the Abernethy UMC BEAR Closet II that is open to the public. The items include non-perishable food items and toiletries that famillies might need. It also includes diapers and wipes.
- Children’s Clothing Closet in partnership with Abernethy UMC BEAR Closet II is available to families in the community.
A FamilyShare Candler Advisory Council meets regularly to plan and evaluate the program. The council members include residents of Candler.
- Buncombe County Health Center
- Buncombe County Schools
- Children’s Developmental Services (NC early intervention program)
- Mountain Area Child and Family Center/Early Head Start
- Serendipity Consignments
- Simply Home/CMI, Inc.
- Western Carolina University
- BiLo Grocery Stores
- National Hospital Hospitality Houses, Inc.
- Community Management Initiatives/Simply Home
- High Mountain Solutions
- Wee Trade Consignment Sale
- Several area churches
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