Families Helping Families of Northeast Louisiana is a nonprofit organization focused on providing a network of supportive services to disabled individuals and their families. Disabilities include physical, mental, emotional, behavioral, and/or learning disabilities. By connecting families that have similar experiences, Families Helping Families of Northeast Louisiana provides a channel for first-hand advice, knowledge, and information.
Families Helping Families of Northeast Louisiana has been accredited with the Standards for Excellence Institute since 2009 and I recently had the opportunity of speaking with Executive Director, Stacey Guidry to learn more about the organizations mission and some of its most recent accomplishments.
To begin with, tell me about how your organization came about and the type of support it offers.
The organization came about from funding from a local university because they noticed a need for resources for children with disabilities and their families. It all began with a tiny little room with one person and has expanded over the last twenty-four years to nine staff members. All nine have family members with disabilities so they understand the journey and the difference that support can make.
How are the lives of members impacted by the efforts of your organization?
Often when you find out that your child has a disability you only receive the pertinent information. Everyone is focused on telling you only what you need to know right now rather than what this means for the long term. This organization goes beyond that scope and helps to plan for the future. When members are seeking information or advice, volunteers from Families Helping Families will go with them to ensure that they know what questions to ask and that they get answers for all of their questions. We give them the resources to advocate for themselves. Through this support, Families Helping Families makes it so that members of the community with disabilities are able to remain in their communities rather than being institutionalized.
What is the volunteer process like within your organization?Individuals who would like to volunteer can call in and request more information about upcoming opportunities. We can take down their information and keep them updated via email whenever an opportunity arises that they may be interested in coming out for.
How has the relationship with Standards for Excellence impacted your organization?
It reflects very positively on the organization. When writing grants, especially, the topic of accreditation will often come up and people are very impressed when they learn that you have been accredited by Standards for Excellence.
Are there any recent achievements that you would like to highlight?
We just hosted our first Family Fun Day at the local zoo with 256 attendees! We often emphasize the importance of inclusion and this was an opportunity to reach out to the community and have a day of fun for families with disabilities and without where we get to see kids be kids and realize that they all share the same hopes and dreams.
To learn more about Families Helping Families of Northeast Louisiana, Inc. visit their website at http://www.fhfnela.org/index.php.