Behind the doors of the conference room at the county building on London Avenue, a group of about 30 people learned on Sept. 22 that there is "no wrong door" and "help is wherever you turn."

Behind the doors of the conference room at the county building on London Avenue, a group of about 30 people learned on Sept. 22 that there is "no wrong door" and "help is wherever you turn."

"This is an effort to hopefully open doors to the people you serve," said Union County Commissioner Tom McCarthy.

McCarthy briefly addressed the group made up of social service employees and faith-based organizations at the beginning of the training session.

"Times are tough," he said. "The volumes coming through our doors are up at the same time resources are down. This training today is probably one of the most important things you do this year. Hopefully you will leave here a little smarter, a little more aware of what's available so you can serve the people coming through your doors more effectively."

Brenda Rock, the executive director of the Council for Union County Families, said it was the fourth group to take the "no wrong door" training since 60 community leaders representing 32 different agencies came together in 2006 to determine what Union County was doing right and how it could become better in serving the community.

"The whole concept of 'no wrong door' is that people can go into any door and get the help that they need," said Rock.

Prior to the most recent training session, Commissioner Gary Lee said Rock organizes all of the social agencies in the county.

He said she does a good job of making sure efforts are not duplicated by the various social service agencies.

Rock described the Council for Union County Families as a collaborative organization which streamlines services to make sure that there are no gaps.

She urged the people attending the training session, several of whom represented faith-based organizations, to network and get to know the people in social services so families are better directed to the appropriate agencies.

The "no wrong door" concept was not created in Union County.

Rock said after the community forum in 2006 that a group went to Wood County to be trained in the "no wrong door" concept. Afterward, she said, Union County officials tweaked the program and made it their own.

The trainees heard representatives of the big five doors - the Department of Jobs and Family Services, Union County Veterans Services, the Health Department, Senior Services and the Board of Developmental Disabilities - talk about what they offer.

After the forum three years ago, Rock realized that folks were saying the county services are available, but not everybody is familiar with the services.

"We are a growing community and as we grow sometimes we lose touch on who is doing what and what is out there for our families," she said.

First she surveyed the social services staffs, with about 60 responding, and asked what the barriers are for getting families connected to services.

The top barrier, according to the surveys, was the uncertainty regarding eligibility.

The next issue was people did not know where to find information on the needed services.

"We surveyed families that were coming into this building, because they are coming in for multiple needs," she said.

Someone stood in front of the building asking families if they had ever had trouble getting services and why.

The top barrier, according to the families surveyed, was that they did not know where to find the services and they did not know what services are available.

Through the training sessions, Rock said, staffs from various agencies are educated and are taught to be helpful in getting families directed to where they need to be.

"And not only will they get directed," she said, "but that person will take it upon themselves that 'If you have trouble, you can call me back,' so it is friendly and supportive services."

Books, which incorporate the names of organizations, contact people and contact information such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses, were provided to the trainees.

Periodically, Rock said, the information is updated and can be shared with clients.

Throughout the day-long training session various panels help-ed the participants understand more about organizations such as housing for the homeless, mental health treatment and where to find food, clothing and utilities.

Humorous skits were performed as a way of poking fun at the social services and to get staff members to think about how to interact with people in need of services.

Rock advised the participants not to just let the person go out the door without a name or number or being encouraged to call back if they need further assistance.

"That is the whole protocol of 'no wrong door,'" she said, "which takes us beyond having the information, but also having that kind of attitude and support to help people move forward."