SHERIDAN — A new program launched in the fall that will help connect individuals in the community with needed social services, such as after-school programs, disability services, employment/job training, rental assistance and volunteer opportunities.

According to Center for a Vital Community executive director Amy Albrecht and former Sheridan Health Center director Cathi Kindt, Community Connections was born out of Study Circles on Poverty in 2012. One of the eight initiatives created from those community conversations was the concept of a one-stop resource center, which was a universal theme in all the circles.

Additional support for such a program was identified through surveys of persons and families with needs and listening sessions with community stakeholders.

The feedback was favorable, and there was a consensus the long-term result would offer a comprehensive referral and follow-up service that is not offered by individual organizations.

As a result of those initial studies, a group of community members took it upon themselves to make the program a reality.

The Community Connections committee is an ad hoc committee working under the Center for a Vital Community. The committee includes human service providers, church representatives and other community members. Over the last five years, the committee worked to make the Community Connections program a reality.

Albrecht and Kindt said the goal was to work with existing organizations without creating a new nonprofit entity.

Once the committee had a vision, its members began to look to other existing nonprofits to partner. Later, Debra Haar, Sheridan County Public Health director, saw the need for the program and suggested her facility host the program.  

Community Connections will make referrals, provide follow-up, identify barriers to receiving service and build relationships with the service providers and participants. Outcomes will be measured by the success of the referral, mitigating any barriers and satisfaction of those served. This service will complement the services provided by other agencies and does not duplicate any existing service, Albrecht and Kindt said. 

The Center for a Vital Community, Sheridan County Public Health, Sheridan County Memorial Hospital, Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation, Joe and Arlene Watt Foundation, Cornerstone Church, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Dementia Friendly Wyoming and Wyoming 2-1-1 have all stepped up to help in some manner to support the Community Connections pilot program.

The Community Connections pilot program launched Sept. 1. An extensive outreach plan has been used to communicate with local providers and the community at large. Outreach events to service providers and the community at large will continue throughout the pilot program.

The services are provided at Sheridan County Public Health, located at 297 S. Main St. If you are in need of service, need additional information or want to become involved, call (307) 672-5169.