Chris and Amy Pruett, right, talk with the Marriage Resource Center’s Lavern and Rhonda Nissley in 2014. The resource center has now teamed up with Citi Lookout after some of its grants ended. Bill Lackey/Staff

Springfield groups partner on marriage programs after grants end

The Marriage Resource Center and Citi Lookout have recently partnered together to keep the center available to the public.

The Marriage Resource Center launched in 2004 to address high divorce rates in Clark County. The group’s mission is to provide relationship and marriage education resources that build strong families and strong futures.

It received two separate federal grants between 2006 and 2015. When its grant in expired in 2015, the center’s revenue dropped by 85 percent.

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“A lot of nonprofits would have been devastated,” said Lavern Nissley, executive director of the Marriage Resource Center. “Obviously we had to scale back but we’ve still been offering basic services. We are still able to provide accessible and affordable resources.”

“We have seen a change in the number of people we serve because some of the programs we were running were relationship education in schools; probably close to 2,500 students were affected each year,” Nissley said.

Other agencies have since picked up the educational programs but despite the change the end of the grants has created, Nissley said he’s confident that the organization is making a difference.

While receiving the grants, the Marriage Resource Center didn’t charge for its services. Because of the cuts, the center now receives income through donations, other grants and through charging small fees for services.

There has always been a good relationship between the center and Citi Lookout, but partnering last winter allowed the two organizations to apply for grants together and make referrals between the two groups.

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“Linking our two missions has just gelled really well because we both have similar passions for people and their relationships,” said Barb Dotson, director of Citi Lookout. “We just are able to help in different ways.”

When the two groups came together, they talked about what each group brought to the table.

“We looked at everyone’s strengths,” Dotson said. “The Marriage Resource Center has very strong administrative strengths while our strengths include helping people with their counseling and advocacy.”

“We do different things, and depending on what the client needs, they can pick either service,” Nissley said. “Putting the two groups together provides a pretty robust resource for the community.”

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