The nation’s beleaguered economy has caused a seismic shift at Children’s Network, says NorthBay Healthcare’s Director of Accreditation and Licensure, Mary Dickey.
As president of the Children’s Network Board of Directors since 2005, Mary has seen the number of needy families skyrocket in recent years, with job losses and home foreclosures.
It makes her work at the Children’s Network more important than ever.
“Our major focus now is family economic recovery,” she says. “The economic climate affects the child, not only in terms of health care, but in basic areas such as having a house to live in and having food to eat.”
Children’s Network works with Family Resource Centers in Vacaville, Fairfield and Vallejo to reach out and help. Thanks to a $25,000 grant, they’ve been able to help families pay their water bills.
After all, a family can get by without power and gas, but without water they can’t bathe or cook, explains Mary.
The group has also sponsored financial health fairs, and provided tax preparers to help people look for possible tax incentives and returns. Thanks to their work last year, they were able to find more than $1 million in refunds, and expect to return even more to local taxpayers this year.
“And that money goes right back into our local economy,” says Mary.
She first got involved with Children’s Network in the 1990s, when she was recruited to serve on the Child Abuse Prevention Council, which comes under the auspices of Children’s Network.
As director of Women’s and Children’s Services at NorthBay from 1990 to 2007, it was a good fit.
In 2001, she was honored by the organization as advocate of the year, one of many awards that adorn the walls of her NorthBay Medical Center hospital office. She has also received NorthBay Healthcare’s Humanitarian Award, and a certification of commendation from the California Department of Social Services for outstanding accomplishments on behalf of abused and neglected children.
“What we do at Children’s Network,” she says, “is try to collaborate to bring children’s issues to the community. The children in this community are the future. We need to invest our time and our energy to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to grow up in a supportive and caring family and that they are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school. They are the future nurses, doctors and teachers in our community.”