10/23/09 — Partnership reviews year, updates agenda

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Partnership reviews year, updates agenda

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 23, 2009 1:46 PM

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The winning team, from left, Shorlette Ammons-Stephens from the Wayne County Public Library, Rick Rogers from Wayne Memorial Hospital, chairman of the Partnership for Children of Wayne County board, and Gail Herring from the Wayne County Public Schools, plays a game of "Partnership Jeopardy" during the Partnership's annual meeting Thursday.

Children learn through play, so why shouldn't those attending the annual meeting for Partnership for Children of Wayne County?

From the moment attendees entered the auditorium at Wayne County Public Library Thursday morning, it was all about educational games -- a scavenger hunt to learn about the Partnership's programs, a Monopoly board place mat at each seat which served as the morning's agenda and featured services of the program, capped off with a rousing "Partnership Jeopardy" game to further illustrate the role the Partnership plays in the lives of Wayne County families.

David Poythress, Partnership monitoring director, played game show host as four teams vied for the title of Jeopardy champion. Categories included money, ABCs, health history and family support.

Even the "important message from our sponsor," a commercial before the tie-breaking question, contained a parade of staff representing programs and resources provided by the Partnership.

"We hope you've learned at least one or two things about the Partnership in today's festivities," Don Magoon, executive director of Partnership, told the crowd.

The creative approach reflected the lighter tone being taken for the coming year, Magoon said. That's in stark contrast to how the past fiscal year began, between the economy and state budget crisis.

It's time to become more "forward-thinking," he said.

"We had kind of fallen into the trap that many non-profits do, in that we let our funding guide our annual plan," he said. "We made a commitment not to do that. We're going to make our mission drive our strategic plan and then work hard to find what young families need.

"We have gotten a lot of new things on the drawing board and now we have just got to flesh out the plans and find the money to fund them. It's a fresh start and it really feels good."

Despite the shortfall of funds, the Partnership had a very busy year, Magoon said -- participating in grant programs as well as restructuring the board and committees.

"We've entirely redone our strategic plan," he said. "We learned that our board members didn't know as much as we thought they knew. We have orientation next week so we're going to show them (what we do)."

Overall, the director said the leadership has worked hard, taking close to a year to complete a strategic plan he feels will be effective.

"I think our board has been much more engaged and involved," he noted. "I'm excited. Good things are going to happen for kids. We have got a strong partnership, and it's kind of re-invigorated."

Reflecting on the previous year, Magoon said he was pleased with the progress.

"I'm happy to say that we met or exceeded many of our goals at the high-performing level," he said. "We only missed one goal, in teacher education. I wish we could make them all go back to school, but we can't. We missed it by one percentage point.

"I'm hoping when we get results back in December, we'll be over that."

The Partnership targets children from birth to age 5, and provides prenatal and family resources. According to the annual report, there are 10,457 children in Wayne County in that age range. Of those, 3,172 are in licensed or regulated day care.

At the same time, there are 572 children on the waiting list for child care subsidies as of June 30.

The Partnership's next fundraiser, which provides unrestricted dollars beyond items on the Smart Start budget, will be held Nov. 2 at Steak Barn, Magoon said. The reverse drawing, open to the public, starts at 7 p.m. Cost is $100 per couple for two steak dinners and a chance in the drawing, which is a $5,000 grand prize.

Last year's event raised $9,100 for the program, he said.

For more information on the event, call 735-3371.