By Anastasia Romanova, Program Specialist, NACHC-Community HealthCorps
For more than thirty years, National Health Center Week (NHCW), has served as a weeklong campaign to celebrate the impact of Community Health Centers in delivering high quality, cost effective, and accessible care across the nation. This year’s celebration was especially significant, falling in line with two major milestones, the 50th anniversary of Community Health Centers and the 20th anniversary of Community HealthCorps. In partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers, the Campaign for America’s Health Centers, the GE Foundation and McKesson, three Community HealthCorps Program Sites hosted NHCW events highlighting the combined positive impact of national service and Community Health Centers. Led by Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps members, each event included a service project benefitting the local community and a program recognizing all of the individuals making the local Community HealthCorps and Community Health Center programs possible. Community HealthCorps National Director, Gerrard Jolly, attended each event to officially present the hosting Community Health Center and/or partner organizations with their AmeriCorps grant award, officially announcing them as 2015-2016 Community HealthCorps Program Sites. Below are featured highlights from each of the three celebrations.
Grand Rapids, MI
The nation’s largest Community HealthCorps team–Cherry Health— hosted a back to school health fair. The event brought local families together in an effort to gear up for a healthy start to the upcoming school year. Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps members and Cherry Health staff offered free health screenings, hopscotch and jump roping contests as well as healthy snack and school supply giveaways. Attendees also heard from second-year Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps member, Jaclyn Chandler, Cherry Health Chief Clinical Operations Officer, Tasha Blackman and Gerrard Jolly, on the positive impact generated by the health center movement and Community HealthCorps within the Grand Rapids community. The event was highlighted by local news outlet, WZZM 13 Grand Rapids, in this clip.
As one of the founding Community HealthCorps Program Sites, Syracuse Community
Health Center hosted a special program highlighting both 50 years of Community Health Centers and 20 years of Community HealthCorps. Led by Syracuse Community Health Center CEO, Leola Rodgers, the event featured representatives from regional and county health departments, who shared local and national proclamations made in support of Community Health Centers. Two of the team’s six Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps members also shared their service experience and the positive impact made possible by combining the mission of national service and health centers.
“My service year with Community HealthCorps has been the best year of my life,” said Ashley Brown, “After medical school, I will definitely come back to work at a health center, where I know I can truly make a difference.”
Additionally, the event recognized Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps alumni now working as staff at the health center, as well as current and past Community HealthCorps Program Coordinators and Site Supervisors. Throughout National Health Center Week, Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps members also facilitated daily service projects benefitting the local community.
The Community HealthCorps team serving with the Community Health Center
Association of Connecticut (CHCACT) hosted the final National Health Center Week celebration. The two-part event took place at the Connecticut Institute for Communities (CIFC), a service site for two of the team’s 18 AmeriCorps members. In the morning the CHCACT Community HealthCorps team engaged participants of the CIFC Head Start Program in various physical fitness activities and a green smoothie tasting. The afternoon portion was kicked off by CIFC CEO and AmeriCorps VISTA alumnus, James Maloney, emphasizing the importance of the national service experience in developing the leaders of tomorrow:
“Whether it’s through VISTA or Community HealthCorps, AmeriCorps give
s you the opportunity to delve deep within the social services field, equipping you to make an impact both during and after your service year.”
Current Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps member, Rebecca Bonhomme, and alumnus, State Representative David Arconti also shared insights on how the Community HealthCorps program and Community Health Centers have helped inspire their continued desire to serve others.
To learn more about National Health Center Week, the 50th Anniversary of Health Centers and the 20th Anniversary of Community HealthCorps celebrations across the country, you can follow the #NHCW15, #CHC50 and #HealthCorps20 hashtags on Twitter and Facebook.