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Counselor defends work at Community Service Center

POSTED: July 6, 2011 1:00 a.m.

I attended the recent public meeting of the Hall County commissioners, but did not speak due to time restraints.
I have counseled at the Gainesville-Hall County Community Service Center for a little over 17 years and am privileged to work with a dedicated and skilled staff as well as extremely hard working clients.

I want to thank the city of Gainesville and Hall County for that privilege. I often brag about our government and their commitment to improving the lives of the people. I know the clients who are served and those who support them are very appreciative. I also thank those who wrote, called and spoke on our behalf. I am so proud of the clients who spoke at the meetings. My heart is full of gratitude and admiration. I know where you started in your journey and it is absolutely amazing to see where you are now. I feel honored and privileged to know you.

For those of you who have no idea what the counseling program is all about, there are two state licensed counselors. Jack works part time only two days per week. I work full time. Between us, we schedule between 45 and 55 client-hours per week.

Because we see couples and families, the actual number of clients is often higher. The counseling program is income based and was initially established to bridge the gap between the public and private sectors. With the economy worsening, we are seeing the gap widening. We get referrals from agencies all over the city and county including Avita and private practitioners who are unable to see clients at their rate.

I could tell you so many stories of marriages saved, families restored, jobs sustained, generational patterns broken and even lives that were saved. But they are not my stories to tell. You may have heard some of the stories at the meetings.
We are all connected. We will all need human services at some point. I have heard some talk about the government getting back to basic functions. I keep thinking "we are the government." Who is to say what is necessary and what is not? And if we take the government out and create a true separation, what kind of government would that be?

My clients know their need and what it means to them to come to a place they can afford to get help. And they know and do their part.

The CSC staff is incredibly resourceful. I love working at a place where lights are off to conserve energy. I have long made similar choices at home for two reasons, to be a good steward and to be environmentally proactive. I know that what I do at home affects others in the long run. I am grateful for a work environment that has the same philosophy and manner of operating. I am grateful for all the clients served and what that means to our community. You matter. I am also deeply grateful for those who support what we do.

Lisa Clement
Gainesville



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