A local agency helping married couples with counseling, advice and support services has closed.
But it’s programs have been picked up and spread throughout Johnson County, with the hope that couples will still be able to find the help they need to be successful.
After eight years of providing programs to strengthen marriages and improve family dynamics, Marriage Investors has dissolved as a non-profit agency. The group had been having difficulty getting grants and financial assistance to continue.
The organization’s programs, such as relationship counselors, small group speakers and literature, have been absorbed by churches, libraries and other agencies in the county.
“Healthy relationships create healthy communities,” said Bea Northcott, former executive director of Marriage Investors. “But there are a number of churches doing marriage enrichment programs, and other places to get these resources now.”
Marriage Investors officially closed its doors in August. But Northcott has arranged for its programs to be picked up by other groups around the county.
The speakers, which had focused on topics such as healthy relationships versus what’s shown in television or movies and the struggle of teens to be individuals while in relationships, have fallen under the direction of Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County.
Books, CDs and DVDs on romance, parenting and strong marriage have been given to the Johnson County Public Library and Edinburgh Wright-Hageman Library.
Youth Connections has adapted a number of educational programs for high school students about healthy relationships. Churches such as Mount Olive Lutheran Church and One Hope Church have added counseling.
A listing of those services still is available on Marriage Investors’ Web site, Northcott said.
“I wanted to maintain a Web presence, so that people can go and get these resources when they need it,” she said.
Marriage Investors was formed in 2003 after a United Way study indicated that family breakdown and divorce was a major problem plaguing the county.
Another 2004 study found that more than 90 percent of couples heading for divorce court also are from divorced homes. Of those couples, 82 percent never received premarital counseling.
Bringing together pastors from area churches and family agencies within the United Way, Marriage Investors started offering premarital and marital counseling through local ministers, as well as literature and videos on marriage, family and all stages of a relationship.
The program had taken a hiatus due to financial difficulty once before, for a year spanning 2006 and 2007. When it reemerged in 2007, it had been reorganized as a non-profit group with the hope that it would be eligible for more grants.
But with a number of similar agencies providing help with marriages, it became more difficult to find the financial backing it needed to operate, Northcott said.
Non-profit groups such as Marriage Investors rely on grants and public support to operate. Fewer grants were available for groups working with married couples and families.
“We came to the realization that even though the mission is a good one and the need is there, it doesn’t translate into getting the financial support we need,” Northcott said.