Bound together to help island families | Guest Column

The Andersons; David, Avaline, Linnea.  - Contributed photo/United Way
The Andersons; David, Avaline, Linnea.
— image credit: Contributed photo/United Way

By Joyce Sobel/Elli Gull

David, Linnea and Avaline Anderson were welcomed "as family" when they began attending toddler parent groups at the San Juan Island Family Resource Center.

They are new to the island, and when they first came to group, they said the group was like "a welcoming committee" through which they became friends with about 10 families pretty rapidly".

Linnea expressed her feelings that parenting can be so isolating, but the groups provide a community building opportunity. "We'll do PTA with these families", said David.

Linnea, who has worked in the juvenile justice system for 14 years, knows intimately the importance of parent networks.

"We're playing for keeps here. Building parent relationships at a young age will positively impact the rest of our lives. Parenthood crosses all socio-economic lines."

The Family Resource Center offers opportunities for families and children that are important for individuals, families and the entire community.

Children and families are at the heart of United Way of San Juan County's priorities. United Way provides funding for the San Juan Island Family Resource Center (SJIFRC), so that families and children have access to Family Support services, including the Prenatal-to-Four home visiting program, weekly parent education and support groups, Welcome Home Baby, and other special family activities.

In 2012, more than 2,500 individuals (over 30 percent of the island's population) utilized some form of San Juan Island Family Resource Center programming at some time during the year — and numbers continue to increase.

In addition to family support, San Juan Island Family Resource Center provides a wide array of services, including resources and referrals, financial assistance for housing, food, transportation, prescriptions and other basic needs. Programs like the Family Resource Center need and deserve our support. In addition to this program, United Way of San Juan County funds 27 other vital programs countywide.

Through donations from people in the community, these programs provide resources to our neighbors: families, children, the elderly and the disabled. Every little bit of support makes a huge difference to these small programs. Ninety-eight percent of donated funds stay local.

For a full list of all 28 United Way of San Juan County funded programs and to contribute, please visit

—Editor’s note: Joyce Sobel is director of San Juan Island Family Resource Center; Elli Gull is director of United Way of SJC.


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