By Cindy Schroeder
The Kentucky Enquirer
NEWPORT, Ky. -- When the Safety Net Alliance first met in June 2007, representatives of five nonprofits discussed ways they could work together to avoid duplication of services and better serve Northern Kentucky families in need.
Today, the Safety Net Alliance has grown from a handful of social service agencies, churches, educational institutions, government entities and other groups to a collaborative representing more than 100 organizations and nearly 250 individuals. Safety net services are considered those that meet basic human needs, including food and shelter.
Northern Kentucky's Safety Net Alliance has become so successful that it inspired Clermont County's social service agencies and other nonprofits to form a similar group. Founded in 2010, the Clermont County Safety Net Alliance has nearly 50 member partners. And like Northern Kentucky's Safety Net Alliance, it's constantly growing.
"Our team may be a bit smaller, but we have a lot of enthusiasm," said Ruchi Bawa, web administrator for the Clermont County Safety Alliance and service learning coordinator for the University of Cincinnati.
The collaborative approach helps meet basic needs through the sharing of resources, information and best practices, representatives of agencies in the Northern Kentucky safety alliance say. The collaborative also helps local agencies identify gaps in services and match partner agencies with needed resources.
Aside from its monthly meetings, the group has a website where members can share information on everything from food, clothing and other needs to job postings and upcoming events. The site contains a listing of member agencies, and members can post alerts to the whole group for quick responses on urgent matters.
"For example, if an agency has excess food, it can send out an alert and get replies almost immediately," said Paul Gottbrath, executive director of Be Concerned, which helps low-income Northern Kentuckians obtain basic necessities. "That way, donated food doesn't go to waste."