Early in 2015, the Giles County Administration and Board of Supervisors decided to take a detailed look at exactly where, and by whom, reactive services were being utilized within Giles. The goal of the mapping effort was to identify concentrated community clusters where the County could affect positive change through a more “focused”, efficient, accountable, and comprehensive delivery of services. Since then they have built a  caring and talented FOCUS network made up of local government, local and regional service providers, community organizations, churches, and donors to create change in those communities!

This summer they have been working on a new playground for the Mullins Trailer Park. They have installed a basketball court and this fall they plan to complete of the playground with swing, slide, benches and landscaping. The playground is meant to encourage physical activity and to provide a positive outlet for local youth.

The Pearisburg United Methodist Church also provided a 4-week Wednesday evening playground and barbecue event for Orchard Grove families. This created opportunities for FOCUS members to sit down with the residents and have productive conversations.

A bike rodeo and safety course was also held at both the Mullins and  Orchard Grove communities this summer, with 55 youth participating. All participants were given helmets upon completion and additional helmets have been donated to police officers to give out to kids seen riding without a helmet when on patrol. This effort is meant to encourage both personal safety and a positive community policing model, where youth can have positive experiences and interactions with police in their community.

Numerous youth from the FOCUS Communities also participated in the Giles County Summer Youth Work Program, where youth aged 16-19 are placed in 6-week/192 hour work settings that match their interests and aptitudes, in order to get real life work experience. Two of the Mullin’s kids were also able to go to 4-H Camps, after they provided scholarships.

More activities are underway for the Fall, but this effort shows how a  collaborative approach can bring systemic change one individual, family and community at a time! For more information contact: Jeff Dinger,  jdinger@gilescounty.org.

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