Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CHEER, HEZ, & More! (re: Community Health)

Heard about CHEER?!? Well, if not, read on. The following is from Bruce Baker, Executive Director of the Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research (CHEER).


Dear Friends,
        CHEER has been very active this summer.  CHEER is leading an effort to form a Health Enterprise Zone in Long Branch and Takoma Park.  This is a major step in CHEER's ongoing effort to develop a place based community improvement process that addresses the social factors that most profoundly affect health and well being.  CHEER is also conducting a community health assessment, exploring opportunities for local economic empowerment, and supporting events that build connections among the diverse people in our community.  Below is a detailed update on recent CHEER activities and opportunities for community participation.  
CHEER FALL 2012 UPDATE        
Health Enterprise Zone Coalition Forming        
        CHEER is coordinating a coalition of government and local non-profit organizations to establish a Health Enterprise Zone <http://dhmh.maryland.gov/healthenterprisezones/SitePages/Home.aspx>  (HEZ) in Long Branch. This is a new State funded, place-based approach that could bring as much as $1 million into the community. If selected, the funds will be used to reduce health inequities, expand access to health care services, and address the social factors that negatively influence health outcomes; such as poor housing options and limited economic opportunity.

        CHEER helped facilitate an HEZ Public Forum at the Long Branch Community Center on July 26, 2012.  Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, State health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein, and Montgomery County Director of Health and Human Services, Uma Ahluwalia made presentations. More than 100 community participants listened and asked questions. The State is preparing the application criteria and call for proposals for HEZ designations. The Long Branch HEZ coalition will submit an HEZ proposal in the fall.

        The HEZ coalition includes major local non-profits such as, IMPACT Silver Spring, Casa de Maryland, Adventist Community Services and others. It also includes the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Primary Care Coalition (PCC) and other health care providers and funders. CHEER brings four years of experience in building collaborations and relationships deep within the Takoma Park and Long Branch communities. This includes relationships with many community groups, churches, tenants/homeowners groups as well as contacts within Takoma Park City government. Other coalition members have worked more extensively within the Long Branch community.

        Development of the HEZ is a community driven process. There will be many ways that community members will be involved. There will be a process for program selection and development, a committee for data development and measurement, and a committee for administration and proposal development.  If you want to be involved in any of these committees or in some other way, please contact Bruce Baker <mailto:bruce@communitycheer.org> .

        Check our website for more information on the Long Branch and Takoma health enterprise zone concept <http://communitycheer.org/indicators/health/the-long-branch-health-enterprise-zone-concept/> .

Health Assessment: "Unnatural Causes" Discussions at Park Montgomery        
        During the month of July CHEER conducted a series of showings of the PBS documentary "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick <http://unnaturalcauses.org/> " for the residents of Park Montgomery, a building primarily occupied by African Immigrants.   The series of showings included episodes that focused on neighborhood quality and social connections (episode 5 "Place Matters), immigration and health (episode 3 "Becoming American"), and food and nutrition (episode 4 "Bad Sugar).  In the last session The African American Health Program collaborated with CHEER to do a session on how to get health care, and CHEER conducted a focus group discussion for the health assessment.  Attendance was 15 to 20 for each event.  Feedback was very positive, and many new relationships were established and valuable information gained.  Thanks to the volunteers include Aislynn Raymond, Ezinna Esochaghi, Mesi Samuel, and Abraham Dessali. 
        CHEER will be conducting another series of showings at the New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in October. 
        CHEER conducted a public showing of "Unnatural Causes" on Saturday September 15 at 1:15pm at the third annual Hyattsville Community Multicultural Health and Wellness Fair at the First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville (6201 Belcrest Road, Hyattsville, MD).  
Local Economic Empowerment Forum with the Democracy Collaborative        
        On June 20 Steve Dubb and David Zuckerman from the Democracy Collaborative conducted a forum on creating wealth in Takoma Park and Long Branch.  They discussed  successful approaches for building local cooperatively owned businesses that offer more inclusive and equitable growth, and community stability.  About 25 people attended the event.  They discussed the possibility for developing local businesses in Long Branch modeled after the successful Evergreen Cooperative Initiative <http://evergreencooperatives.com/>  in Cleveland.
Building Connections through Social Events        
        Takoma United for an Engaged Community held an International Dance and Community Potluck on June 23.  More than 100 people came to share food and watch six forms of dance, and participate in two of them ( a Morris Dance, and a Jewish Folk Dance).  The event was hosted and co-sponsored by three local faith congregations Takoma Park Park Presbyterian Church, God Glorified Church of God in Christ, and Fabrangen Cheder Jewish Congregation.  Thanks to Jen Wofford and all the members of Takoma United for putting on a terrific event.
        The next Takoma United event will be "Explore Takoma" a community walk held on September 29 from 11 to 1 pm.  The self guided walk starts and ends at the Takoma Park Community Center. The route will take people through significant historical and cultural landmarks that have interesting stories to tell.  
Recent Outreach        
        CHEER was at The Ethiopian Festival in downtown Silver Spring on July 22, National Night out at Piney Branch Elementary School on August 7, and the Takoma Park Folk Festival on September 9. 

Staff and Volunteer Opportunities        We have two immediate opportunities, one paid and one volunteer.          
        October 2, 9, and 30  from 9 am to 10:30 am. Paid Opportunity. A bilingual health research assistant is needed to assist in a series of showings of "Unnatural Causes <http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/> " at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in the Quebec Terrace neighborhood in Long Branch.  Assistance is needed in facilitating discussions, and recording inputs.  Help will also be needed with analyzing and reporting on findings.  All showings and discussions will be conducted in Spanish.  Funding from the Consumer Health Foundation allows us to pay for these tasks, 
        October 7 CHEER has a booth at the Takoma Park Street Festival.  The Street Festival highlights the energy and vibe of Old Town Takoma with an abundance of music, food, shopping, and more community. We need volunteers to sit at the booth for one or two hours between 11 am and 6 pm to introduce CHEER to festival attendees and find out what would make for a healthy community. 
        Bruce Baker
        Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research (CHEER)
        7724 Maple Avenue #13
        Takoma Park, MD 20912
        http://www.communitycheer.org <http://www.communitycheer.org/> 

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