A Learning Experience
“I began as the Executive Director for the Mingo County Family Resource Network when it first opened on that April 1st in 1996, and have been there since, says Amy Dearfield Hannah. “It was a learning experience for everyone involved...I didn’t realize how much I truly had to learn!”
“Family Resource Networks are organizations pledged to be responsive to needs and opportunities in West Virginia communities,” Amy says. “FRNs provide resources for West Virginia’s children and families.”
The Mingo County FRN has a variety of duties in the area, including organizing regular Community Conversations meetings, something that they do in collaboration with the Healthy in the Hills initiative to bring as many people to the table as possible. The FRN also collaborates with various direct service providers and agencies in the area, something they also do at the monthly Community Conversation meetings. It is the FRN’s goal to “identify emerging needs and issues' ' in the area, says Amy, and to build the organization to address those issues.
The Mingo County FRN also coordinates and promotes activities addressing important issues in the community. The FRN has promoted a variety of events in the area through the years, including child abuse prevention efforts, promotion of healthy eating and living opportunities, and back to school events.
“You know what you are doing matters, and it warms your heart”
For Amy, one of the most special parts of her job with the Mingo County FRN is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each year during the month of April, she organizes community events, the planting of pinwheel gardens, and goes to schools across the county to raise awareness using events and walks at the school.
“I am busy as a bee and enjoy every minute of it,” She says. A few years ago, a board member sent her a picture from a Child Abuse Prevention Month flag-raising ceremony in Matewan. In it, a little girl looked up at Amy, smiling, and Amy smiled back at her. “For all of the times I had felt defeated, wondered if I should find another job, or thought that our grants would not be funded again, the joy that child and I shared that day reminded me of why I do what I do. It is about the little things that touch my heart in a grand way and confirm that this is where I am meant to be.”
There’s been times where Amy has been approached by folks and their families to thank the FRN for what they do. “You know what you are doing matters, and it warms your heart to know that it does.”
Through the years, Amy has learned a lot through her involvement with the FRN. “I had to learn about meaningful engagement of those with lived experience, and how to create a table where everyone had the opportunity to be involved in planning and implementing projects and programs,” she says.
Amy says that she believes that everyone involved has grown through the years. “I have been blessed with some wonderful members on the Board of Directors and community partners across the years that have helped to guide me along the way,” She says. “I think all of us have grown as leaders over the past 24 years.”
Amy notes, “Ultimately, everyone involved has learned we need each other to succeed.”
All photos courtesy of Mingo County Family Resource Network.