Interagency offers networking opportunities to local community groups

Monthly Interagency group meetings in Sylvan Lake are well attended by local organizations that collaborate and share

Monthly Interagency group meetings in Sylvan Lake are well attended by local organizations that collaborate and share new information on current activities.

The Sylvan Lake Interagency supports various organizations by providing collaboration time on the second Tuesday of every month, with 20 to 30 individuals gathering in the meeting room of the Community Centre.

Meetings begin at noon and end at 1:30 p.m.

Town of Sylvan Lake community development co-ordinator Alissa McDonald said the community is welcome to attend meetings, which provide groups and organizations an opportunity to share information and gain first-hand knowledge of new programs.

“It’s hard to get your information out there,” McDonald said. “(Organizations) can share what’s going on with each other for residents in Sylvan Lake.”

Meetings begin with McDonald welcoming everyone by offering them lunch. While people eat, the key speaker presents information on his or her program or event, which is then followed by discussion.

Afterwards, each organization’s representative shares the information he or she has brought. And lastly, McDonald asks if there is anything else that somebody would like to bring up. The meeting is then closed.

“Within our meeting, we usually have one organization who asks for extra time,” McDonald said.

“This organization gets more time to share the benefits of their program and events. Maybe they want to showcase something new about their programs.”

Organizations benefit from having the opportunity to connect and build relationships with each other. They can collaborate, discuss ideas and start new initiatives, using meetings as a launching point.

“Without this Interagency I don’t think people would connect with each other as quickly,” McDonald said. “The networking information wouldn’t get out there as quickly. The Interagency provides a platform for the collaboration to be possible between organizations.”

McDonald takes all the brochures, pamphlets and calendars given out, scans them to PDF format and emails them to 60 organizations from Sylvan Lake and Red Deer, such as Victim Services and the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter.

McDonald said meetings help reveal strengths in community services, and also assist with assessing social needs; organizations hear what is happening and find ways to be supportive.

“We hear great feedback,” McDonald said. “We do check-ins every once in a while and we hear that organizations are benefiting.”

McDonald said sometimes certain organizations can’t attend. That’s when she acts as a representative and presents the information she has received from that organization.

“It’s about community building and we are giving people the venue to share with each other,” she said.