Catalyst Community: West Midland Family Center

The word “community” is defined as a group of people living in the same place or having a particular interest in common. Catalyst Midland is launching a new series titled “Catalyst Community” focusing on different communities — sometimes geographic, sometimes a common interest. We’ll find out what’s happening in those communities and what’s underway to help them move forward, presented from their perspective. Susan Love, New Initiatives and Promotions Director of West Midland Family Center, shares their story:
Aerial photo of the West Midland Family Center, located 14 miles west of Midland on M-20.
Tucked away near the western border of Midland County you will find
West Midland Family Center (WMFC). It’s understood that folks from town think it’s a long way ‘out there,’ but it’s actually a quick drive. Upon arrival, you find one of Midland County’s hidden assets, immediately on the corner of Isabella (M-20) and Alamando Road.
Susan Love is the New Initiatives and Promotions Director for the West Midland Family Center.

Born out of the family-centered philosophy, WMFC works to enhance the quality of individual and family life. WMFC offers family-centered services, confident that the best place for children to grow-up is with their own family. And, that the most effective way to ensure children's safety and well-being is to deliver services that involve, engage, support, and strengthen families.

Attributes of family-centered practice include: Working with the family to secure health and safety of all members. Strengthening family capacity to function effectively by focusing on solutions. Building relationships between parents and Family Service staff members is characterized by open communication, mutual trust, respect, and honesty.

Addressing obstacles
The family-centered format is an ideal framework to address obstacles. Therefore, at WMFC, family-centered practice is the umbrella under which a multitude of assistance programs have grown. The Family Services program assists individuals and families who lack the essentials for daily living, such as food, clothing, household necessities, rent or utility payments. Doing so ultimately enhances security and helps families prepare physically and emotionally for proactive growth.
WMFC staff load up vehicles at the drive thru, food distribution event.
After-school, Preschool, and summer programs also serve to bolster family security. Each program gives children a nurturing and fun-filled, educationally based platform in which to engage while their parents work or go to school. When children are safely cared for, parents can relax and successfully attend to their work knowing that all is well with their child. That was the case earlier, during the pandemic shutdown, when WMFC Childcare chose to remain open for the children of essential workers. Those who are required to report to a worksite to accomplish their work had difficult choices to make. It was important to WMCF staff members to guarantee parents could go to work in such difficult times knowing there was a familiar, trustworthy place for their children.

Scarcity is an issue
Lifelong Midlander, Greg Dorrien, has been the Executive Director of WMFC since 1991, after joining the organization in 1987.
Ben Larson, facilities director, and Greg Dorrien, executive director, greet clients arriving at the food distribution event.

“Over the years we have seen an ongoing waxing and waning of localized poverty,” says Dorrien. “Sometimes more severe and other times, less so … but scarcity has always been an issue in western Midland County. For that reason, we allow the community to lead the way. As circumstances dictate, the focus of our family services will shift. With the pandemic and the local flooding last Spring, food insecurity has become much more pronounced in our community. People are struggling.

“In difficult times, families require support,” continues Dorrien. “Like a sailboat, WMFC shifts its sails to meet the challenge head-on. Currently we are seeing many families seeking assistance having never before been in a situation to do so. We collaborate with countless other non-profits in this county and provide a safety net for the people in need, whether situational or on-going.”

Food insecurity
Case in point: To address issues that surfaced as a result of simultaneous pandemic and flood- related crises, WMFC works with numerous like-minded organizations and funders to take on the growing issue of food insecurity. Concerted effort with collaborative partners led the WMFC surplus food distribution program to expand its reach to address related difficulties.
277 families were served at the food distribution event on March 2.

In 2021, WMFC anticipates coordinating 15-20 food distributions out of the WMFC delivery site and as a partner to other organizations, will help facilitate 25 additional food distributions throughout the community.

These are indeed challenging times for everyone, however much more so for those facing economic inequality, flood-related upheaval or pandemic-related job loss. The WMFC mission to “enhance the quality of life for each generation by providing growth and achievement opportunities within a caring environment” illustrates that WMFC operates under the premise that the community cannot rest until all individuals and families are okay, both today and tomorrow. WMFC dedicates its work to these folks.