“Her impact has been immeasurable,” Wright said.
Barger spoke about her role and the role of the resource center in the community during a Lebanon Noon Rotary Club meeting Tuesday afternoon. Wright, a Rotarian, introduced Barger.
The Family Resource Center helps Wilson County students who are in need.
“When most people think of the Family Resource Center, they think of our backpack program, but we are so much more than that,” Barger said, in reference to a program in which students in need are given food items to take home in their backpacks.
“We help with so many other things. We have homeless people in Wilson County who sleep in a tent, and they have children. We help with that, we help with lice shampoo, we take food to schools.”
Another example of something the Family Resource Center did to help a student in need, Barger said, was to help find a dentist for a child.
“There was a child today who needs a root canal, going to the nurse quite frequently to get pain medication brought by his mother,” she said. “We contacted a dentist in Lebanon who is going to provide that service to this child. If you’re in fourth grade, dealing with tooth pain, that’s excruciating. No matter how great your teacher is, school is probably not the first thing on your mind.”
The Family Resource Center first opened in Watertown for schools in that area, but now it has expanded to reach all 19 schools in the system.
Barger said it could be easy to assume that the need in Wilson County is not great because recent census statistics indicate Wilson County is the second-wealthiest county in the state, behind Williamson County.
However, Barger said, Williamson County’s median income is significantly higher than Wilson County’s median income. She also referenced the poverty level, which is about 5.6 percent in Williamson County and about 10.1 percent in Wilson County.
“Even though our population is lower, our poverty level is higher,” she said. “It’s important to know that, while we are the second-wealthiest county, we still have needs.”
Many different students throughout the county, and their families, are helped through the Family Resource Center, Wright said.
“We have children who, if not for the school system, their needs would not be met, whether that’s food or clothing or a kind word,” Wright said. “We also take responsibility as far as helping parents be parents. I don’t know about you, but when I was turned loose with my first child, it was like ‘oh my goodness.’ There was no license or certification that would help me there.”
For more information about the Family Resource Center, visit wcschools.com/family-resource-center or call 615-444-8267.