By Kathryn Reed
Nineteen powerful and influential people are gathered around a table. Collectively, what they and their staffs do affects thousands of people – mostly South Lake Tahoe residents.
Lake Tahoe Collaborative facilitator Wendy David called February’s meeting “sobering” because of all the talk about staff and program cuts. The mental health department laid off two counselors, the county is looking at furlough days, Head Start is trimming staff.
“What’s especially disturbing is it’s hitting education and our kids. I think we’ll need even more collaboration,” David said Feb. 10 in her remarks as a Lake Tahoe Unified School District board member.
Collaborative members meet monthly to see who is doing what, talk about accomplishments, talk about goals. It’s like a clearinghouse of ideas and a warehouse of information in one spot.
Because most of the funding sources are through California, participating agencies are on this side of the state line.
Lake Tahoe Collaborative is the mother of all social agencies. The Women’s Center, mental health, probation, CASA, LTUSD, Tahoe Youth & Family Services, Family Resource Center, Sierra Recovery Center – those are some of the participants. It’s mostly executive directors – the people who can make decisions.
It all began in 1992. According to historical documents, “The Lake Tahoe Collaborative originally began as the Tahoe Prevention Network, a group that was looking for the means to bring additional funding to the county and to promote collaboration between all the nonprofit service agencies and county agencies.”
After the grant that the Prevention Network had secured ran its course, the members decided to stay intact and create the Collaborative as it is now known.
The Collaborative recognized years ago that a juvenile treatment center needed to be built in South Lake. It helped make the facility a reality. In 2008, discussions drifted toward which agency is doing what to combat the gang problem.
“The Collaborative is one of those fluid groups talking about what is happening in the community for families,” said David, who works for Court Appointed Special Advocates.
David leads the meetings. Each attendee has a chance to talk. Discussion is polite. No posturing or territorial stances are evident.
David said the need for social services in this community has not diminished even as the permanent population has. She said each agency worries about government shortfalls and the unstable economy. She said the health of the community is directly related to the services it can and does supply.
“If you lose funding for day care, then the person can’t work,” David said of potentially real scenarios that demonstrate how the agencies are interrelated. “Then do you have an increase in domestic violence? Then do they start drinking?”
For Lake Tahoe Collaborative information, call Wendy David at (530) 573-3072.