Most of us have complex lives. On any given day we might be dealing with challenges in our roles as parents or as caregivers to our own parents. Or maybe we are having an issue at work or are managing a health issue. Sometimes our car needs to be fixed or a big surprise bill comes in. In fact it is rare when our rough patches involve only one issue; almost always we are juggling multiple challenges on any given day that intersect and overlap in their impact on our lives. Even though we know this about ourselves as people, we typically don’t organize our system of supportive agencies to mirror this reality. Our community support organizations often deal with one issue — maybe food security or preventing domestic violence — and then refer us somewhere else for our other needs. This often means frustrating, disjointed experiences for our community members who may need support during a tough time in their lives.

This is why I am so excited about the merger of four of our critical support organizations from Tahoe/Truckee. Through the coming together of Tahoe SAFE Alliance, Project MANA, the North Tahoe Family Resource Center, and the Family Resource Center of Truckee, we will have a chance to build a much more integrated and comprehensive service system for our residents. Given the fragmentation that already exists in our community, with county lines running through neighborhoods or even houses and mountain passes and weather issues that pose regular barriers to connecting, a chance to simplify care by bringing agencies together to comprehensively address our complicated lives makes so much sense.

I have lived in the Tahoe/Truckee region for over 25 years and know each of these organizations intimately. Through my work at the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation and now at Nevada County, I get to see first-hand how much we need the services of these organizations. Their individual commitment to ending violence, alleviating hunger and building stable families is critical. But through coming together around a shared vision of a safer, healthier community and blending their services and staffs into one seamless system of care, I know that our community members will now have access to even more support that better mirrors the intersecting needs they may be experiencing.

I feel grateful to live in a community in which the leadership of our core nonprofits is both visionary enough to pursue such a bold organizational change and compassionate enough to commit to creating the services our community needs. I am excited about this new model of care that builds on our long community history of collaboration and I hope all of us can come together to continue to provide our volunteer energy and donor support to ensure that this new organization thrives.

~ Phebe Bell is currently the director of Behavioral Health for Nevada County. She has lived in Truckee for over 25 years and has worked for many local nonprofit and public human services agencies during that time.