When the Building Community Program started in 2012, only one service was offered. Today, the Building Community Program offers a variety of services to include a broader population of community members. One of our directors took the time to explain more about what program has to offer the community!
When did the Building Community Program start?
Building Community really got started with the first Community Life Center (CLC) in 2012. There was a needs assessment done in the community, so a lot of partners like the Department of Human Services [and] the school district all got together and saw a need for some kind of community service. They had those groups of people go to the Midwest and visit a model called settlement homes. The model is essentially community taking care of community. They thought it would work well here, and they asked The Matthews House if we could do that.
What services were offered at the beginning? How have the services changed or grown up until now?
The first program that was there was Family to Family. That’s the roots of the CLC, and now we’ve expanded to have three family services programs. Family services include Family to Family, the Be Ready Early Childhood Navigator Program, and then CCR (Colorado Community Response). In addition to those programs comes the education and recreation pieces: Homework Helpers, GED, ESL, Best Starts for Babies, and Parent Cafés. Zumba is one recreation activity, we’ve done country line dancing, and we also have community events baby showers, family dinners, and a Thanksgiving dinner. It’s really a space where families or kiddos can find community but also take what they’ve found and then spread it.
How many Community Life Centers (CLCs) are there?
There are two, and they serve all Larimer County. We started with our CLC at Fullana and recently moved that site to First Presbyterian, and our second is our CLC at Genesis Project. The growth has been huge. The CLCs are open to anyone, so people can walk in, other agencies can send their families, people can send friends – it’s just meant to be a very all-encompassing space.
What is the main goal of the Building Community Program?
I would say the main goal would be providing a safe space and an opportunity for families to explore who they are as families and what they need to be successful.
How have you seen the program build community?
One really cool example has been with Best Starts for Babies and Parent Cafés. Both of those provide on-going opportunities for families to interact with each other, so then they become this little cohort that supports each other. We also had a young parent playgroup and those moms got to know each other so well that they gave each other hand-me-downs if their baby was a little bit older. It just happens where families connect with each other, build a support network, and then they carry that on. Even if the class is over, they now have contacts that they can take to their external community. It also creates community in that we’re partnering with other agencies, so it’s broadening our community of people. It’s a lot of different layers. There are opportunities for people to give back, volunteer and just be together. There are so many different ways that community happens. It’s fun and sometimes it pops up where we don’t expect it to.