Database connects people and programs

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Tri-County YMCA AfterSchool Mentor Kendra Hoffman helps Cason Lubbehusen, 8, of Ferdinand, with homework during the AfterSchool Program in Ferdinand on Tuesday. The Tri-County YMCA, a community-focused nonprofit, is one of the organizations listed on the new Dubois County Resources website.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

A new website aims to connect Dubois County residents to resources that could change their lives. Named Dubois County Resources, the database officially launched Tuesday as a social care network that bridges together people and programs.



“We have many nonprofits and social care providers in our community, but for many people, navigating the system to get help can be difficult, time consuming and frustrating,” Christine Golden, Jasper-Dubois County Public Library director, said in a press release.

 “The goal is to help everyone, regardless of background or means, find the help they need with dignity and ease.”

After visiting DuboisCountyResources.org and entering a ZIP code, users are shown a list of organizations that offer a long list of assistive services. Categories include food, housing, health, money, work and more.

Currently, 50 local organizations are listed in the results — with more expected to be added in the future. The website is part of a larger network service called Aunt Bertha.

The project was made possible by a partnership between the Dubois County Public Health Partnership and Jasper-Dubois County Public Library. It is funded by a three-year grant from the Dubois County Community Foundation.

Golden explained Tuesday that the idea for the site stemmed from conversations between groups that would assemble and discuss area food insecurity, mental health needs and housing.

Nona Baker, associate director of the community foundation, took the lead in securing the funding and the resource database platform. Jodi Richardson at the Dubois County Public Health Partnership developed the initial selection of programs listed on the site with the help of Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center interns.

Olivia Sitzman, 6, and Reese Carroll, 5, both of Ferdinand, hold hands while they walk with the Tri-County YMCA AfterSchool Program to 18th Street Park in Ferdinand on Tuesday. AfterSchool Site Coordinator Judy Verkamp said parents really appreciate that the program provides a place for their kids to go after school. “A lot of them wouldn’t have any place to go,” she said.

Their goal was to create a place for Dubois County residents to connect with helpful organizations and experts that can be difficult to find through Google searches.

Dubois County Resources solves that problem. Contact information posted on it is verified by Aunt Bertha representatives, and in general, the knowledge shared on the site will serve as a boost to more than just those seeking help.



“Dubois County Resources makes it easy for people facing social needs — and those who help others — to find appropriate programs and services for food, shelter, health care, work and more,” Richardson said.

Golden said that other helpful community resource lists do exist. They’re mostly paper flyers, though, and Dubois County Resources is designed to be an online, one-stop accumulation that anyone can access from anywhere.

Golden explained that because the database can be searched anonymously and privately, it could help link people to services they might be uncomfortable asking about in public. She also said the number of area organizations listed on Dubois County Resources will grow as time goes on.

“I think that’s the biggest part for us,” Golden said. “This is just a stepping stone. This is step one. Step two, we continue to add more organizations and train them on how to use it.”

Eventually, users will be able to visit the website, select a referral option while viewing a listing, and make an appointment for a consultation that connects them directly with that program.

“And then there’s no middleman involved,” Golden said. “So I think that was another really key aspect.”

Golden believes the site will also help identify gaps that Dubois County has when it comes to needed local services. If a particular category only has a couple resources available, she said, that could show an “opportunity to kind of boost those areas, and find those gaps, and hopefully, maybe start to fill some of those gaps.”




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