First Comes Love, Next Comes Marriage, and Then a Movement – Healthy Marriage Coalition of Fresno/Madera County (HMCFMC)

It was love at first sight. High school sweethearts, Ron and Joan McLain, were from the same town of Yakima, Washington. They met, however, in Montana at marching band camp at 17 years old and were married soon after graduating from high school.

Ron and Joan had a heart for helping people. In 1989 they moved their family to Fresno, CA. Over the years, they worked for a campus ministry, two churches, and a counseling center.

In 2004 they became deeply concerned and burdened with the amount of couples they personally knew who were divorcing. They made a decision to devote the rest of their lives to help strengthen marriages. Ron states, “We wanted to be proactive and help couples before they reach crisis mode.” In 2006 the McLains founded the Healthy Marriage Coalition of Fresno/Madera County (HMCFMC) in order to provide marriage education classes to the general public and underserved populations of the Central California communities.

HMCFMC quickly and vastly grew acquiring a sizeable staff of equally devoted couples and individuals that now provides dozens of healthy relationship skills-based classes each year for engaged and married couples. They also provide relationship enhancing curriculum for high school students, and educational seminars for singles and singles-again to learn how to choose a life partner.

HMCFMC hosts large-scale Mastering the Mysteries of Love, Ready for Love, and World Class Marriage workshops. One of their recent events had hundreds of participants and was covered by almost all available local media outlets including multiple television stations, Hispanic stations, radio, and newspapers.

HMCFMC has taken their marriage-strengthening message to the community through radio (with regular 15-second radio public service announcements), web-based ads (on Facebook and the Fresno Bee), newspaper ads (in the daily and weekly papers) and on transit buses.

One of HMCFMC’s most creative ways to reach the Fresno community can be found in right field…literally.

Chukchansi Park in home of the Fresno Grizzlies, the local minor league baseball team, Over the last couple of seasons, the banner in right field has displayed a positive marriage education message sponsored by HMCFMC and California Healthy Marriages Coalition.

To boost this public awareness effort into a grand slam, HMCFMC sponsors “Celebrate Marriage Night with the Grizzlies.” During an evening game HMCFMC honors couples married 50 years or more, hands out promotionals to attendees and announcements about the local marriage classes are made throughout the ballgame.

Healthy marriage and family affiliates from around the country consider HMCFMC a national model on how to creatively connect with community and develop mutually beneficial partnerships.

Bill Coffin, Special Assistant for the Administration for Children and Families, is familiar with the Fresno marriage movement. Coffin says, “The (HMCFMC) team has done a remarkable job of raising awareness of just how important healthy marriages are to children, couples, families and communities. The classes, ads, videos, events, etc. make Fresno a leader in this field in America.”

Married for over 40 years, Ron and Joan’s relationship and ministry is still going strong. Their goal is to lower the divorce rate in their community by 2020 and have marriage education classes available within a 5-10 minute drive of everyone in the Fresno/Madera county area.

For more information, contact Healthy Marriage Coalition of Fresno/Madera County (http://www.growyourmarriage.com or 559.322.0533 )

RELATED ARTICLES:

>> World Class Marriage – A Program for Couples Who Want More

>> Fresno Rocks! From Baseball Champions to Marriage Champions!

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