WRC JOINS FORCES WITH HOPE Family Services, AND SPARCC to better serve OUR community

By Kaylea Schule and Niki Kottmann

When women support each other, they can accomplish great things. Similarly, when local organizations working to better the lives of women support each other, they become much more powerful. At WRC we are proud of our collaborative programming and work with over 40 nonprofits in our region. This quarter we want to spotlight the relationship we have with our partners who handle the very important work of domestic violence prevention.

WRC is often the first call that women and families make when they are struggling in our community. Aside from the over 10,000 hours of programming we provide directly to our clients, we serve as a conduit to our community partners. We track our referrals and provide more than 2,000 referrals a year. 10% of these referrals are made to our partner agencies who serve victims of domestic violence, HOPE Family Services (HOPE) in Manatee county and Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC) in Sarasota and DeSosto counties.

Our relationship with HOPE and SPARCC goes beyond referring clients to one another. We know that by collaborating with one another we are giving more women and families a chance to connect with the services they need.

One example is the Evaluating Unhealthy Relationship program held at the Bradenton Center of WRC. This ongoing educational support group brings together women who are struggling with relationships. This course is available to women who want to make safe, healthy decisions for themselves, how to understand the broad range of abusive and/or controlling relationships and how to set boundaries in their relationships.

This program has been going strong for more than a decade in Manatee County, and WRC and SPARCC recently established an expansion of the Evaluating Unhealthy Relationship program to the WRC’s Sarasota Center.  “By collaborating, our agencies are able to expand programs and become more efficient in the delivery of services,” says President and CEO of SPARCC, Jessica Hays. “Through a shared core value of empowering women, we focus on complimenting instead of competing with each other. The end result of our strategic collaborations is that all of our organizations are stronger.”

Laurel Lynch, the executive director of HOPE Family Services, agrees, adding that the collaboration has become more than she ever imagined.

“When the idea of HOPE,  SPARCC and WRC working together came up, it seemed simple —  together, the three organizations could improve the quality of services offered by each agency,” Lynch says. “We could move away from any cookie-cutter models of assistance to a system that we could tailor to participants’ individual needs by drawing on the strengths of what each organization does best.”

The positive, unintended consequences of the trio coming together pleasantly surprised her and her team. 

“Each organization saved money by sharing space,” Lynch says. “We were able to reach more individuals as women could walk in any of our three doors and receive the right services, and spreading the word became easier as all of the organizations’ staff members were promoting a united message.”

The lesson she and her co-collaborators learned from this experience is invaluable.

“Together we can do more for participants and the community while saving donors’ money,” Lynch says. “What’s not to love about that?”

Along with expanded programming, HOPE, SPARCC and WRC also collaborate on advocacy events. We want EVERYONE in the community to know about the services we offer and that there is help for those who need it.

Three years ago, HOPE and WRC started a yearly event to raise awareness and funding for our organizations and last year SPARCC joined the event.

The event has been a luncheon in the past, but THIS year we are changing up the format a bit: Handbags & Happy Hour. The event will take place on Thursday, October 18, at the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. 

For details about this upcoming event, please visit MyWRC.org/handbags.