Healthier Glades (HG) is a 5 year, community-driven initiative developed by Palm Healthcare Foundation. The Glades community is the sixth to join the already existing five Healthier Together projects throughout Palm Beach County. Palm Healthcare Foundation has committed 1 million dollars over the next five years to support the communities’ decision to focus on Behavioral Health.
Beginning September 2014, Palm Healthcare Foundation presented their vision for community impact for Healthier Together to residents in the Glades. From the onset, when Palm Healthcare introduced the Healthier Together initiative to residents who call the Glades home, there was an immediate “buzz” and excitement around an initiative that would support residents in a community engagement process that value the expertise of its citizenry and creates space to bring forward the assets inherent in every Glades resident. The very notion of residents coming together and discussing the overall health and well-being as a collective was an empowering experience, stated by a few of the participants who were involved in some of the earlier community conversations hosted by Palm Healthcare Foundation. The Glades residents call home the Tri-city communities of Pahokee, Belle Glade, South Bay and related unincorporated areas in western Palm Beach County.
Through several community conversations, force field exercises, focus groups and stakeholders meetings we accomplished the following “wins” in a short period of time:
- The formation of a Steering Committee
- Identification of a Fiscal Agent – Community Partner’s, Inc.
- The hiring of Project Director, Inger Harvey who is from the Glades and is well known for supporting residents in enhancing their capacity to play a role in transforming communities
Glades Residents, Community Partner’s, Inc., Federation of Families, Glades Ministerial Association, Office of Community Revitalization, Palm Beach County Sherriff Department, State of Florida Department of Children and Families, Glades Initiative, BRIDGES at Pahokee, BRIDGES at Belle Glade, Mz. Millionaire Radio Talk Show Host, Department of Juvenile Justice and City of Pahokee Parks and Recreation Department
Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department
- With the hiring of the Project Director, both workgroups (Marketing & Governance) will work toward establishing priority/focus areas;
- The Marketing work group will finalize defining “Behavioral Health” and plan outreach efforts to enlist the ‘Voice” of the Glades residents in this process;
- The Marketing work group will finalize the Healthier Glades logo by partnering with service providers who serve the areas youth to get their feedback and suggestions;
- The Marketing workgroup will work towards developing a Healthier Glades flyer that can be used to begin branding the project;
- The Governance workgroup will announce slate of Steering members and coordinate the selection/voting process for members to select Healthier Glades Co-Chairs for 2018-2019; and
- The Governance workgroup will continue to review Governance document as often as needed ensuring project continuity and transparency.
Process and Implementation Outcomes:
Diverse community engagement and communication
Healthier Glades is making sure that the community engagement is inclusive of all the diverse cultures that exist in the Glades. HG is committed to creating a platform that is inclusive and representative of the views, values, and wishes of all community residents, regardless of age, status, race, ethnicity, faith or cultural beliefs.
How do you know?
•Healthier Glades community residents, stakeholders, businesses, and providers voted on the health focus area of interest (Behavioral Health) over the next 5 years.
•Healthier Glades community residents were engaged in reflecting on the necessary key elements to consider when selecting the Steering Committee members, the Fiscal Agent, and the Project Director
•Healthier Glades voted Community Partners, Inc., as their Fiscal Agent
Trust is built and nurtured
How do you know?
• So far, community members are comfortable sharing personal stories and experiences when conducting key stakeholder interviews
• Community agencies and service providers have committed to supporting HG by offering FREE co-location space for the Project Director to conduct stakeholder interviews, and focus groups
• Local businesses are interested in learning more about HG and the various roles they can play in this effort
During this reporting period, Healthier Glades has made tremendous strides in a short period of time which is evident with the on-boarding of a dynamic Steering Committee made up of diverse residents and service providers. The community residents vested in this process volunteer their time serving on the HG Steering Committee and their insight and knowledge shared about the community has created a culture of transparency and authentic resident engagement within this group. March 2018, the new Project Director, Inger Harvey, was hired and HG Steering Committee members and Palm Healthcare Foundation representatives shared in providing an overview of the HG work to-date, highlights of community activities in addition to perceived challenges and/or concerns.
Over the next few months, the Project Director will focus on conducting key stakeholder interviews with Glades residents and will work with the Steering Committee to review the data collected from the HG community and develop a plan of action that will honor and recognize the contributions shared by the residents creating space for open conversations and cross pollination of ideas. This process in itself helps with changing the conversation from what is wrong to what are the possibilities.
In this community driven design model, emphasis will be placed on being clear on the purpose and building authentic relationships are at the foundation of HG achievements. In order to sustain change over time, the Project Director with support from the Steering Community will intentionally scale up the Initiative, starting with celebrating small wins, while working with grassroots leaders and organizations building trust and nurturing the talents, gifts and dreams that will aid in HG re-writing a new narrative for the community.
Let the community transformation begin!!!!!!!
- The Glades community is multi-cultural, and is very diverse economically and educationally and with regards to the different languages spoken. In order to affectively engage the Glades residents, the Project Director will need to understand and respect the various cultural traditions, norms and communication styles unique to this multi-cultural community. Staying closely connected and engaged in the various grassroots community efforts, the Project Director will take every opportunity available to speak with residents and share the various ways they can become engaged in HG. It’s important to allow residents to determine the role they want to play and when they will be ready to engage in HG. We cannot force engagement, allowing it to happen organically reflect how HG has chosen to engage the community in an authentic way building trust and nurturing the relationships.
- Communication – making sure the language used when describing Healthier Glades community-driven initiative is understood by everyone and materials developed are culturally and linguistically appropriate for all residents.
- “Let’s not rush it”. HG is moving in the right direction and the more opportunities we have to listen to residents, drilling down what is being said and going back to the residents to confirm the findings is “Key” to reinforcing that whatever the problem, the community has the answer. The Project Director is confident this approach will help to create a sense of belonging for those who have been marginalized and have become invisible in our community. This community driven process will help with making the connections and bringing forward the talents, passions and hopes and dreams of all citizens – shifting the context for the community.
Top three things you are proud to have accomplished through your work with Healthier Together:
- The hiring of Project Director, Inger Harvey
- Identifying and selecting a Fiscal Agent - Community Partner’s, Inc.
- Formation of the infrastructure for Healthier Glades - Steering Committee, Marketing and Governance Workgroup
Top three challenges you have faced with your work with Healthier Together:
- Changing the Narrative - Setting the stage that focus on the strengths inherit in every community not the deficits is paramount to community transformation. It’s easier to look at the deficits, however HG will intentionally approach its work by building from the communities’ strengths.
- Resident Ambassadors - Increasing resident participation on both the Governance and Marketing workgroups.
- Resident/Partner Data Base - Creating a data base which will be the clearing house to capture all HG members/residents and their relationship to the HG Project. Having a data system in place will support the cultivation of relationships aimed at increasing resident participation over time.
- Create a Vision and Mission Statement for HG
- Finalize Key Stakeholder Interview and Host Sense Making Session
- Defining “Behavioral Health” – What does it mean to the community?
- Determination by the community of priorities and the direction that HG.
- Develop Action Plan.
- Create flyer for HG
- Continue to identify ways of increasing Community Engagement- (Ambassador/Engagement workgroup)