Local agencies come together, build connections
ROME — Many hands make light work, and the community can only benefit when service providers work together.
To that end, Upstate Family Health Center and the YMCA partnered on Saturday to host the Community Partner Vendor Fair. There, local service providers got together and shared resources and built connections to serve the community better.
Francesca Esposito, mental health prevention coordinator at The Center for Family Life and Recovery, and Lisa Matte, the library director for the Jervis Public Library, were among those in attendance and, with booths right next to each other, took the time to learn more about the other’s organization.
The two were aware of each other’s agency, but they didn’t know each other or all of the resources each offered.
“This is such a great opportunity for community agencies to break out of their silo and learn what the other does for the community,” Esposito said. “I only just learned the Jervis Public Library offers a ton of amazing perks for families in the area, whether it’s summer or the winter.”
“We all serve the same people,” Matte said. “Our service population overlaps. So why not connect with everybody and show them what we have to offer the other? Why reinvent the wheel? If it already exists, lets partner.”
Esposito said she already planned to make copies of Library brochures detailing resources available at the Jervis Public Library and make them available at the Center of Family Life and Recovery.
“This is different than your normal health fair,” Rome YMCA Branch Director Bruce Hairston said. “We wanted to get together with everyone and see what everyone else is doing, what they’re offering, and what services for the families in our community. Normal health fairs, you set up, and the community comes in and gets some nice pins. But one thing I’ve learned since the pandemic is that you have to do something different to survive. You can’t sit in your own little space and think the world will come to you.”
Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo agreed with Hairston and was happy to see all the agencies come together for the betterment of the community.
“I think the community doesn’t realize the kind of resources available to them, and I think it’s really important to do a collaboration like this,” Izzo said. “We have a great plethora of agencies that provide so much to the community, and it’s very much needed. Post-COVID, we learned we couldn’t do everything on our own. So these types of events are good not just for the community, but you service providers.”
With such a large turnout from local agencies at this inaugural event, Izzo said it shows their commitment to the community.
“We sincerely appreciate it,” the mayor said.
After the event, Torie Hairston, director of Behavioral Health Services at Upstate Family Health Center and co-host, said the feedback they received from the inaugural Community Partner Vendor Fair has been positive and very encouraging.
“I think the best part is that everyone who was there left with more than they arrived with, whether it be information and resources, new professional contacts, or plans to collaborate with other service providers in the future – and that was our goal,” Torie said. “Having the opportunity to co-host such a successful event with my father was incredibly rewarding for me, personally and professionally, and to do so in a way that highlights all that Rome has to offer.”
Plans are already in the works for next year’s fair with the hopes of more community partners and a bigger turnout.
Participants included Exagen, Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency, CNY Health Home Network, Jervis Public Library, Wellcare by Fidelis, Center for Family Life and Recovery, MVP Healthcare, NBT Bank, OnPoint for College, Multilingual Interpretation Services of CNY, Community Health and Behavioral Services, LabCorp, Project Fibonacci Foundation, 50 Forward Mohawk Valley, Nascentia Health, CCE Oneida county - Snap Ed and Change Club, Madison-Oneida BOCES Consortium of Continuing Education, The Neighborhood Center, Clearly Connected, Coaching and Wellness, The Utica Center for Development, ICAN, Connected Community Schools, Aetna Medicare Solutions, Resource Center for Independent Living, and Rome Health Community Recovery Center.
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