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Family Services celebrates 20th anniversary
The Dispatch - 8/12/2017
Aug. 12--The organization that deals with some of the most personal and traumatic events in the lives of children and families in Davidson County is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Family Services of Davidson County was formed in 1997 when two separate organizations, Youth and Family Counseling Service and Davidson County Domestic Violence, combined forces to provide a more cohesive plan to provide support services to the community.
Julia Toone, executive director of Family Services of Davidson County, said a community survey at the time recommended the two agencies join to provide more intervention, educational and counseling programs for at-risk families in the county.
"I think that is largely what has gotten better over the years," Toone said. "The collaboration with services and making sure that when folks come to us we are able to assess what the individual need and family need is and try to bring all of those services together."
In the past 20 years, Family Services of Davidson County has seen a variety of programs develop to meet the changing needs of society. Toone said the Board of Directors for the organization meet on an annual basis and discuss issues identified by different agencies to make sure family services is addressing the needs of the community.
"Whatever is going on in the community we have to react to and change what we offer," Toone said. "We recognize that we need to fine tune those. ... Such as the opioid crisis, we recognize it is a huge problem in this county and it is impacting everything that we do."
Toone said the advance in technology has also helped the organization provide more efficient and oftentimes more successful assistance. An example is the new e-filing system that allows victims to file and process protective orders in one day, including seeing a judge to grant the order through a webcam.
Family Services of Davidson County will be holding a breakfast on August 29th at Davidson County Community College to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the organization. Tickets for the event can be reserved by contacting Family Services of Davidson County.
Toone said the event is to recognize the contributions of those who helped make the organization successful, in particular the 16-member advocacy group and longtime director of clinical services Tim Tilley.
Paula Turlington, a member of the Family Services of Davidson County Advocacy group, said the group is made up of people who have been involved in supporting Family Services or, prior to that, the counseling center and the domestic violence program. She said through the years, the group has been a sponsor of many fundraising events and is a sounding board for the Family Services of Davidson County board of directors.
"These women have been dedicated to the lives of families in our community, and Family Services is the place where we see that impacted the most" Turlington said. "We have expanded the number of advocates about a year ago because we needed to get some younger people involved in what we feel is a very important subject."
Toone said she is deeply appreciative of the support of the advocacy group, which existed before Family Services was created.
"It was that group of women who have organized and have continued to stay involved that has meant so much," Toone said. "They have continued to guide and advise me. ... They have helped me become a better leader."
Tilly worked for the Youth and Family Counseling Services prior to the creation of Family Services. Toone said that she values the experience and guidance that he brings to the organization.
She said that she sees Family Services evolving into a justice center where more organizations, such as social services and the sheriff's department, can coexist to provide more services for families in a centralized location.
Toone said that she is proud to be working for an organization that has played a critically important role in the protection of women, children and families from domestic abuse, violence and addiction for the past 20 years.
"Sometime people don't know exactly what family services means," Toone said. "Our role is not just to support families that are at risk and can't pay for services. We are here for everyone. We see a lot of people come through here. Everyone needs a little help in their lives at some point."
Sharon Myers can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 228, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Sharon on Twitter: @LexDispatchSM
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