Despite the daily deluge of news that causes us to question lifelong relationships, here at the Marriage and Relationship Education Center (MREC) we find reasons to have faith, especially as we celebrate our 12th anniversary of helping others create and sustain healthy, lifelong relationships.

MREC is a faith-based nonprofit, established in 2004 and located in the Carroll Nonprofit Center in Westminster. Our mission is to serve our community with relationship education so marriages and families thrive. For the past 12 years we've accomplished this through partnerships with nonprofits, schools, churches, businesses and through awareness efforts, like Date Nights and Family Walks. Our materials are rooted in biblical principles, research-based and offered in both faith-based and nonsectarian settings.


In 2004, I worked alongside my parents -- MREC founders, Bill and Anne McKenna -- to form the state's first nonprofit dedicated to building strong families. Since then, MREC has expanded, sharing the value that stable marriages and families bring to our community. Significant priorities include encouraging couples to make their relationships a priority and helping students gain skills that lead to wise choices and healthy relationships.

Testimonies of relationship healing at MREC events are a source of encouragement. At an October MREC dinner, Tye Schaeffer and Tammy Nelson spoke of their blended-family, ending with a powerful statement.

"MREC has changed our lives in so many ways," Tye said. "We have been given the tools to have a happy marriage and the opportunity to continue learning and growing with MREC."

Now, the couple is planning their May wedding.

On its website, the National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families wrote, "Research has shown that healthy relationships are crucial to achieving safety, stability, and self-sufficiency. Healthy marriage and relationship education focuses on building skills such as communication, conflict management, parenting, and financial literacy." MREC promotes these skills.

Healthy marriages are imperative to the wellbeing of our community. A report from the Institute for American Values suggests that communities with high rates of healthy marriages evidence fewer social problems and lower rates of crime and welfare dependency.

As MREC enters its 13th year we continue to work toward a wide range of goals, including helping our youth make healthy relationship choices, supporting stepfamilies and promoting healthy marriages through relationship education.

We want to thank the community for their continued support of donations, participation and volunteerism.

Amy M. Gilford


The writer is the Executive Director of MREC.