Organization brings community together

Wed, 02/06/2008 - 10:27am
By: Carolyn Cary

In an effort to bring together diverse people and organizations in the community, one local organization based in Fayette County is accomplishing what might have seemed impossible to do years ago.

Family Connections, an organization that Georgia began to put in place throughout the state in 1991, has grown from 15 communities in Georgia in 1991 to 159 Family Connection county collaboratives in 2004. Fayette Alliance Coordinating Teamwork, Outreach and Resources, otherwise known as FACTOR, came out of that initiative here in Fayette County three years ago.

Becky Smith serves as executive director of FACTOR and program director of Fayette Meth Taskforce.

“I'm pleased with the growth of FACTOR in its three years,” Smith said. “We have researched community concerns among our citizens and our collaborators and their readiness to tackle these concerns.”

FACTOR is a 50l(c) 3 so that it might receive gifts, funds and grants to accomplish its mission, to coordinate resources by bringing all areas of the community together to build a safe and healthy Fayette County through education, networking and advocacy.

“FACTOR does not provide any direct services,” she added. “It is an umbrella organization, with all of the community partners working underneath the umbrella to address some common goals. “

It has nearly 90 collaborative, or partners, who represent groups in Fayette County that range from the board of education, churches, counseling services, Department of Family and Children's Services, Fayette Youth Protection Home, to Fayette Senior Services, as well as public and private individuals.

They all seek to ensure the highest quality of life including health and well-being of its members and Fayette County citizens.

In its three years, FACTOR has accomplished a number of initiatives, such as assessments in the county as regards teen pregnancy, teen suicide, teen drug abuse, underage drinking, juvenile delinquency, school discipline problems, school dropout rate, youth peer pressure, adult drug abuse, adult alcohol abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, criminal activity and lack of parental supervision. This assessment allowed FACTOR to develop its Resource Development Plan for 2008.

The assessment was a survey with 680 participants expressing their point of view or concern on the aforementioned subjects.

The survey showed that 83 percent were concerned about underage drinking, 81.7 percent were concerned about teen drug abuse, 78.5 percent felt youth peer pressure was of concern and 77.7 percent felt lack of parental supervision was paramount.

Consequently FACTOR this year will concentrate on these concerns. The collaborators, or partners, will delve into various programs to try to find help and exchange ideas on how they can help each other.

Last winter the group that normally received Christmas gifts for Fayette’s needy families was unable to do so. FACTOR stepped up to the plate and organized receiving and dispersing Christmas gifts – a service of great importance to families and grandparents who needed the assistance.

Why should you become a FACTOR partner? Let me count the ways.

You could network with others who care about the welfare and well being families and children; learn abut existing and new community resources; if you belong to an organization, you could showcase your groups resources and receive help for publicizing its events; provide input into strategic plans that impact community quality of life; receive notification of grant opportunities; access community resources through the FACTOR website; and participate in an annual service fair hosted by FACTOR to showcase your organization. You would have a unique opportunity to provide input into strategic plans which will potentially change your community, and thus have an opportunity to influence systems change.

FACTOR meetings are held the fourth Monday of the month, unless otherwise notified, at the Fayette Family YMCA, 215 Huiet Road, Fayetteville. The group eats at 11:30 a.m., and then a program is held until 1 p.m.

The programs currently underway in Fayette County are Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Initiative, Child Abuse Prevention Initiative, Meth Taskforce Initiative and ENCORE Fayette, a community-based program designed to prepare, challenge and engage area seniors in a broad range of community programs for the benefit of Fayette organizations, agencies, residents and senior participants.

If you believe that you can help set up a program to help in any of FACTOR's initiatives, or you see a need that you don't feel has been addressed, call Becky Smith. She will be glad to put you to work. Smith can be reached at 404-291-1602 or

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