A Community Marriage Resource Center
as a Community-Organizing Tool

A number of communities throughout the U.S. have decided that implementing a
Community Marriage Resource Center is an excellent first step in creating a
successful Community Healthy Marriage Initiative.  The core of the Community
Marriage Resource Center model is a website that acts as a clearinghouse for
all of the marriage-related resources and programs in a community.  The
first of these was set up in Orange County, California by Dennis Stoica.
Many of you heard Dennis present this model at the Reno Smart Marriages
conference.  Since Reno, the Orange County website (www.OCMarriage.org) is
being used as a model or template by a number of communities across the country.

The advantages of this model, from a community-organizing and
coalition-building perspective, are as follows:
1)  It makes it very easy for people to find marriage-related programs and
resources for themselves, friends, clients, or congregants, anywhere in the
community, at any stage in a marriage:
2)  It is a very efficient and cost-effective way to add marriage-education
capacity into a community, since all members of a community are able to
access programs no matter where they offered in the community;
3)  It encourages the development of marriage-related programs in the
community in a number of ways:
       A) It creates opportunities for shared leadership training sessions;
       B) Organizations who are interested in starting their own program
can learn about, attend, and copy from similar programs offered at different
locations in the community;
       C)   The built-in promotion/marketing component of the website encourages
new programs since they know their program will be listed and promoted on the website;
       D)   It creates "peer pressure" on churches and organizations to
provide similar programs for their own people
4)  It is a very efficient advertising strategy - all the marriage programs
in a community can be promoted by promoting a single website.  This creates
tremendous economies of scale in program advertising and promotion;
5)  The website generates an immediate "Wow factor" - a deliverable that you
can demonstrate quickly to possible coalition members, members of the media,
and possible funders;
6)  It acts as a focal point for pro-marriage people and organizations in a
community to organize around;
7)  It provides credibility to the organization sponsoring the website;
8)  It allows an organization to begin positioning for possible future grant
9)  It provides tremendous economy of scale advantages:
       A)   In marketing and promotion - in effect creating a "marketing
co-op" for these programs;
       B) For leadership training - as multiple Providing Organizations can
take advantage of a single training opportunity
       C) In individual marriage-education classes, since it is typically
just as easy to teach a class of thirty people as it is to teach a class of six people.
10) It provides an opportunity to "put legs on" Community Marriage Policies,
by providing a way that churches can implement the marriage programs that they promise to implement.

One point that needs to be emphasized is that creating a marriage resource
website is most effective when it is part of a community-organizing
strategy, rather than just a standalone activity by itself. The Orange
County Marriage Resource Center, for example, was set up to be much more
than just a clearinghouse of existing marriage resources.  Rather it was
established as a "catalyst" organization, to encourage and support other
organizations, including churches, in establishing marriage-related programs
for their constituents.   In Orange County, the website is complemented with
the following ongoing activities:

A)   "Monthly Meetings of Marriage-Minded People" - Once a month a group of
twenty to thirty people get together to discuss various aspects of marriage
programming or marriage resources.  This allows for the sharing of "best
practices" between the participants, as well as opportunities to learn about
programs which are available in other parts of the country.  In addition,
this has created a culture of sharing of resources, which has turned out to
be quite beneficial to all of the participants.

B)  An e-mail newslist to all interested parties.
This includes:
- Monthly Marriage Programs Calendars and Highlights Sheets, which are two
single-sheet Microsoft Word documents summarizing upcoming marriage-related
activities which are ideal for bulletin-board posting or for church bulletin inserts.
Examples of the information contained in these sheets are on OCMRC's website.
 - Announcements of the Monthly Meetings;
 - Announcements of "Special Events" and other items of interest.

C)  Attendance at a number of the marriage-related programs in the county.
This shows support for these programs and validates the organizers and
presenters, as well as provides an opportunity to learn first-hand about
some of the programs that are taking place.  It also helps build the

We believe that the website approach can be an excellent part of any
community marriage organizing effort - whether the coalition is just
starting out or if it has already been formed.  New coalitions, in
particular, find it to be a great way to make some very visible progress
while spending almost no money.

The software which the Orange County Marriage Resource Center (OCMRC) used
to create their website is very inexpensive and easy to use.  The OCMRC is
willing to provide a copy of their actual website as a template that others
can modify very easily by using standard "copy and paste" and "insert and
delete" functions.  In addition they have written step-by-step instructions
on what to do every step of the way.  This means that a person definitely
does not need to be a computer expert to implement this approach.

Implementing the website does take an investment in time, but not much in
the way of money.  The total first year "hard cost" to implement the website
is less than $160.  That includes $70 for the software, $15 for the first
year's domain registration fee, and $72 for the first year's website
hosting.  Since the OCMRC is making their website available for FREE as a
template for other communities to modify, and are providing step-by-step
implementation instructions, they are confident that any community can
implement such an approach, AS LONG AS THEY HAVE SOMEBODY WILLING TO

The implementation instructions are written as a series of articles, which
together provide a step-by-step roadmap to the creation of a Community
Marriage Resource Center Website.  Here is an overview description of what
somebody would need to do to implement this in their own community:

1)  In order to get an overview of the philosophy behind the Marriage
Resource Center approach, we suggest you start by reading the article about
the Orange County Marriage Resource Center in the Smart Marriages archive at
the following address:


2)  Begin locating existing marriage-related programs in your community by
following the instructions in the article entitled "Finding Existing
Programs in Your Community".

3)  Acquire the necessary software.  The easiest way to implement this model
is to purchase the same software which Orange County used to create their
website, since OCMRC provides specific instructions as to how that software
can be used to modify their website for your community.  The name of that
software is CuteSITE Builder, and it is available from www.GlobalScape.com
for a price of $69.99.  You have a choice of ordering it on a CD-ROM or
downloading it; we suggest ordering the CD-ROM since the CD-ROM includes
some printed product operating instructions that do not come with the
download.  (An alternative approach, if you have access to Microsoft's
FrontPage and know how to use it, would be to import OMCRC's website
into FrontPage following the instructions in the article entitled "Importing
Orange County's website using Microsoft FrontPage"). (Please note that
OCMRC has no affiliation with either GlobalScape or Microsoft; they are both
outside software vendors.)

4)  E-mail Dennis Stoica at Dennis@OCMarriage.org and he will e-mail you a
copy of OCMRC's website template which you will then be able to modify to
create your own Community's Marriage Resource Website using the article
entitled "Modifying OCMRC's Sample Website for Your Community".  There is no
charge to receive this website template. Dennis is giving you the template for FREE.

5)  Publish your website on the internet using the instructions in the
article entitled "Publishing Your Community Marriage Resource Website on the

If you discover any problems with these instructions, or have any
suggestions for improving them, please e-mail your comments to
Dennis@OCMarriage.org so that revisions can be made in the next draft of the
documents.  In this way future community-organizers will benefit from your
experiences as well.  And please let me know when you have your website up
and running so I can share your progress with others who are doing this!

Article 1: Finding Existing Programs in your Community
Article 2: Using Microsoft Front Page to set up your Web site (optional)
Article 3: Modifying OCMRC�s Sample Website for Your Community
Article 4: Publishing Your Community Marriage Resource Website on the Internet

As soon as your Community Marriage Resource Center Website is published, send the url
to Diane Sollee at cmfce@smartmarriages.com and she'll add it to the Registry of
Marriage Resource Center Websites in the Directory at smartmarriages.com.

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