Q&A with Tian Foss
Residence: Warner Robins
Occupation: Executive director, Houston County Family Connection
Q: You’re excited about a particular Christmas gift option this year — what?
A: A Monopoly-style board game we have — brand new. We have it for sale just in time for Christmas. You play it like Monopoly, but all the properties and different places, cards and parts highlight Houston County businesses and landmarks.
Q: What’s it in support of?
A: It’s a fundraiser for Houston County Family Connection and it benefits our collaborative partners and our work together.
Q: Would you explain Family Connection and what that “our” means to you?
A: We bring together community agencies and organizations that are working to better the lives of children and families in Houston County. We help coordinate services and programs and limit duplicating and overlapping services to get Houston County the most help and most effective delivery of services.
Q: So what is Family Connection’s role in particular?
A: We’ve been here for 26 years and used to be known as Kid’s Journey. A year or so ago the name was changed to Family Connections and we were one of five pilot programs in the state under legislative authority tasked to do what we’re doing now. There are Family Connections in every county now, but we were in the first five. Family Connections brings together the agencies, churches, institutions, businesses and organizations in the county whose actions, or inactions, can affect the well-being of children and families. We all join in agreement and commitment to a vision of community health and well-being for all our citizens. Family Connections has the responsibility of collecting data and identifying and prioritizing needs to be addressed.
Q: How often does this group meet?
A: Monthly on the second Monday at Houston Health Pavilion.
Q: What are meetings like?
A: We have causal networking, youth strategy and health strategy reports, special meetings and a spotlight on a particular person or agency.
Q: These partners are agencies, churches, institutions, businesses and organizations as you say — can you give an example of a few?
A: Sure. A few very randomly could include representatives from the county and all three cities plus Robins Air Force Base. There’s Houston Healthcare, Rainbow House, VECTR, Family Promise, the health department, Connections on the Parkway, Harvest Builders and many more. Well over 40.
Q: How does your funding work?
A: I’m basically funded through the legislature and we also receive grants. Funds coming in, and this fundraiser, go toward work we do and collaborative projects. This is the first fundraiser we’ve done in our 26 years. Warner Robins is my physical agent, our state money is channeled through them, and I’m so thankful for the cooperation we have with the city.
Q: How about your more direct Family Connection projects?
A: We do Teen Maze, which teaches teenagers about Georgia law and the fact their choices and actions have consequences. If you choose to have sex you could get pregnant or contract an STD. We talk about the consequences of violence, domestic violence, drug and alcohol use and similar topics. We use interesting ways to show and explain these things and don’t just lecture.
We also work in support of the Warner Robins Housing Authority’s Back to School Bash. We’re currently investigating 16 to 19-year-olds who aren’t in school or working, and we’re identifying needs and barriers to their success. Ten percent of that age group aren’t in school and not working. How can we help get them back in school or guide them toward a GED or becoming part of the workforce? There are those and other projects we have, like creating an online support and resource guide families and teens can use. There are health-related projects, too.
Q: Back to the game, it’s here in time for Christmas.
A: Yes. We’ve had it for just over a week.
Q: Where is it available? How much is it?
A: It’s available at Gottwal’s Books and the Museum of Aviation gift shop, and through Dec. 21 it’s at the International City Farmer’s Market. It’s called HOCO-OPOLY and is $26.75. Local artist Jim Balletto did the board cover design. I’ve been contacted by people from out of town that want one and we’ll make arrangements to do that, too. Email us at email@example.com.
Q: What are a few more game features?
A: You can get a card making you Outstanding Citizen in Houston County and collect $100, things like that, and of course you can end up in jail. You can buy and sell local businesses — that’s kind of fun. I think the player pieces are recognizable and significant. Buy one and find out. It’s a lot of fun and it helps make Houston County even better than it is for families.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.