Community comes out for opening of family center

Published 12:26 am Saturday, September 15, 2012

Civic, government and business leaders joined in on the Friday morning ribbon cutting of the new Dallas County Family Resource Center, located on Alabama Highway 14. -- Sarah Cook

Unity in the community — that’s the goal of the new Dallas County Family Resource Center, located in the Alagasco building off Alabama Highway 14 West.

The ribbon was cut and the center was dedicated Friday morning. City officials and residents gathered for the building’s dedication, which was hosted by the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce.

“We started talking about this a few months ago,” said Donna Long, executive director of the center. “We have the goal of the family resource center being a center where we do referrals and assessments.”

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Long said Dallas County already offers many social programs and community organizations, and the center will simply serve as a place where people can go to learn about these programs and gain information.

During their first year in service, Long said she would like to establish a complete list of all the services Dallas County provides.

“There’s so many assets in Dallas County that the people don’t know about,” Long said. “We don’t want to do their job, we want to partner with them to help the community in a broader way.”

District Judge Bob Armstrong said the center is something he wanted Dallas County to have for some time.

“The progressive communities in our state have family resource centers and the idea is to have a one-stop shop for people that have needs,” Armstrong said.

Eventually, once the center is financially stable, Armstrong said he would like to “fill the gaps” in community needs, providing residents with services they may not already have.

Fatherhood programs and forming a homeless shelter are some of the ideas Armstrong listed as future goals for the center.

Since it is not state or federally funded, the center relies on donations and grants to stay afloat, Armstrong said.

“Churches, individual pledges and grants are how we’re trying to get our funding going,” Armstrong said. He added that churches have been their biggest contributors thus far.

Two social workers are also on staff, Armstrong said, which will assist those who come to the center seeking help.

“It’s different than anything else,” Armstrong said. “It’ll be a one-stop-shop for services in Dallas County. Someone can come in here with whatever need and be assessed, evaluated and then referred to the agencies or programs that are already existing in the community.”

For more information on the center, contact the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce at 875-7241.