Healthier Lake Worth is a multi-year, community-driven initiative founded by Palm Healthcare Foundation with a focus on Behavioral Health. Residents are the primary vehicles through which the Lake Worth community can successfully promote positive and lasting changes.
Through Palm Healthcare Foundation’s expansion of its community-driven, place-based funding approach, Healthier Together Initiative. The Lake Worth community is the fifth to join the already existing four Healthier Together projects throughout Palm Beach County. Lake Worth is receiving a total of 1 million dollars over the next five years to focus on Behavioral Health.
A little over two years ago, the Palm Healthcare Foundation approached Community Partners. They are a local organization with existing grass-roots in the Lake Worth community. They asked them to join forces by convening partners, providers, stakeholders, faith-based churches, businesses, leaders and residents in the community to engage in a conversation about the Lake Worth community. Together we address the most pressing health issues affecting the community. The community got excited and came together to find out how this Initiative could make a positive impact on their wellbeing.
Since then, several community conversations/dialogues, visioning meeting, community asset mapping, force field exercises, and focus groups in multiple languages took place, thus, building momentum.
What heightened the momentum, even more, was when Palm Healthcare Foundation joined Community Partners. These two local organizations received a grant from the national NeighborWorks America and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and began to work side-by-side to promote a healthy community in Lake Worth. They brought together local residents and leaders and encouraged them to engage in rich dialogues to discuss and research the many factors that influence health outcomes in the community. Throughout this process, an informal steering committee was formed. The Lake Worth residents stayed engaged, which fostered a sense of ownership that ultimately led to a pilot project to foster health awareness and educate various parts of the community.
As a result of the strong commitment by the Lake Worth Residents and leaders working together, The Healthier Lake Worth Initiative was launched in January of 2017. Since then, important community efforts have followed including: the selection of Behavioral Health as the Initiative’s focus, identification of Community Partners as the Fiscal Agent, and employment of a multilingual Project Director, Carmelle Marcelin-Chapman on July 15, 2017, who brought to the position years of experience effectively communicating and working with the residents and an extensive network of “movers and shakers” in Lake Worth, including business and religious leaders, stakeholders, and other important partners, who will be essential in rolling out the Initiative.
Since Healthier Lake Worth has been launched, we have experienced many wins:
- Healthier Together partners with Community Partners to work on NW community grant and awareness of HLW.
- HLW leveraged $35000 in national funds prior to being recommended for funding in September 2016
- Creation of Action Teams including Policy, Communication/Evaluation, Awareness, and Education.
- Healthier Lake Worth Launch
Over 200 residents and providers participated in several community meetings and Focus Groups in English, Spanish, and Creole to the 3 health focus areas
- Over 100 Lake Worth residents responded to a Community Health Survey. 78% English, 18% Spanish and 3% Creole-speaking. Though this survey was not representative of the demographic mix of Lake Worth, it provided at least a start at understanding the views and wants of the community’s residents.
- Completed six weeks of community health “dialogue to action” facilitated by Barbara Cheives, a consultant. There were approximately 15 participants in the dialogue, including residents, stakeholders, faith-based church leaders, and other providers. The dialogue took a direction toward youth behavioral health and stress management which then led to several teen workshops, designed to clarify their definition of stress, and a Teens and Pre-Teens Poster Drawing Contest, where they had an opportunity to illustrate activities that they use to handle their stress. Over 35 teens and pre-teens in the community participated in the contest.
- The official HLW logo was created and approved by the community.
- 2 Community “Party in the Park” events reached over 300 families and over 50 providers and Partners, enhancing awareness and providing education.
- Healthier Lake Worth leased a home office in the heart of Downtown Lake Worth. HLW is located at 803 Lake Avenue in the Florida Food & Farm Building.
- Theory of Change to Action. 15 people, including residents and Steering Committee members, brainstormed over big ideas for HLW. They shared their vision of five years from now, identifying the lasting changes they would like to see in Lake Worth. In addition, they developed their short-term goals for the next one to three years. They also discussed the role of a Steering Committee.
- HLW has established two active Social Media presences, including Facebook (100 Followers and 100 Likes) and Instagram (122 followers).
Palm Healthcare Foundation, Community Residents, Community Partners, BRIDGES at Lake Worth, BRIDGES at Highland, Lake Worth CRA, Adopt-A-Family, Salem Haitian Lutheran Church, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Lake Worth Library, Guatemalan Maya Center, The Zoo Gym, The Florida Food & Farm, Chrysalis Health, For The Children First, 211, Cross Ministries, Health Council Southeast Florida, Pineapple Beach Neighborhood Association, Tropical Ridge Neighborhood Association, De Vin Produce, Compass Community Center
- Engage 100 unduplicated residents through a data collection process, to establish baseline.
- Hold monthly community-wide meetings to increase awareness about behavioral health and to establish a shared agenda and a feedback loop for improved behavioral health programming.
- Create an awareness campaign strategy to increase awareness about behavioral health and resources available in Lake Worth.
- Attend and participate in at least 3 community meetings events to promote the Healthier Lake Worth Initiative
- Increase capacity among residents, organizations and systems to impact lasting and sustainable change related to health and wellness.
Process and Implementation Outcomes:
Diverse community engagement and communication
Healthier Lake Worth is making sure that the community engagement is inclusive of all the diverse cultures that exist in Lake Worth and using multilingual communication in order to create 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.Associated Attachments:
•Healthier Lake Worth’s community residents, stakeholders, businesses, and providers voted on the health focus area of interest (Behavioral Health) over the next 5 years.Associated Attachments:
•Healthier Lake Worth community brainstormed over characteristics and red flags when selecting the Steering Committee members, the Fiscal Agent, and the Project Director
•Healthier Lake Worth voted Community Partners as their Fiscal Agent.
•HLW residents including Steering Committee members, providers, and businesses gathered to discuss the theory of change to action in order to develop short and long-term changes they would like to see in Lake Worth.
Trust is built and nurtured
•Local churches, social agencies, organizations, and social groups are excited to hear about the initiative and to participate in conversation about behavioral healthAssociated Attachments:
•So far, we have conducted key informants interviews with about 40 community representatives sharing feedback on community health priorities
•Through a community event (Party in the Park) residents shared openly the words that came to mind when they thought about behavioral health
Healthier Lake Worth is envisioning a community that engages the culturally diverse families, and fosters thriving youth, community pride, safety, and unity among residents. In order to achieve this, the HLW is listening to the needs and directives of the community members through key informant interviews and Force Fields exercises in multiple languages. These activities have been going on for the past two months to help develop a clear definition of what the community views as its behavioral health concerns.
Although the Lake Worth community voted for Behavioral Health as their focus, there is a perception of shame regarding the subject. This feeling has promoted secrecy and a fear among the general population, particularly in the multi-cultural residents, when it comes to speaking openly and honestly about Behavioral Health.
Over the next few months, the HLW will work with the Steering Committee to make sense of the data collected from the community and develop actionable steps to educate the community and facilitate open conversation intended to encourage innovation and creativity to meet the concerns of the community and ensure that all perspectives are heard and respected.
- Though the Project Director has seven plus years of experience with the people of Lake Worth, this type of Initiative, namely a community-driven approach, is inherently slow. The Community needs to learn its role in the Initiative. HLW cannot move, until the Community tells it to.
- The Lake Worth Community is multi-cultural, and is very diverse with regards to the languages they speak, economically, and educationally. Each culture has a certain rhythm, in how they approach change. There is no right or right wrong approach, but they are different and it is important that HLW recognizes and acknowledges these differences, if it hopes to create a harmonious, joint effort from all involved.
- Perseverance – Even when everyone says yes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will do as they promised. There is, once again, a rhythm to people engage. It takes patience and follow-up.
- This is a large, very important Initiative. Though that may be obvious to the uninitiated, the scope of the task is daunting, and requires proper planning, a high degree of time-management, and very strong negotiating skills. The residents, stakeholders, Partners, business and faith-based leaders all recognize the potential benefits to their community, from this effort, but are cautious in being too “gung-ho” until they have complete confidence in a number of areas, confidentiality, that the people guiding them have their best interests in mind, etc.
Top three things you are proud to have accomplished through your work with Healthier Together:
- Because of the Project Director’s ability to conduct focus groups and interviews in the residents’ native languages of English, Haitian Creole, and Spanish, many of the barriers inherent in a multi-cultural community have been lowered.
- The process utilized to facilitate a group decision when the residents were asked to select the Health issue to focus on.
- The large resident turnout at the events held to-date; providers were plentiful, as well. This demonstrates excitement and a willingness to join the effort. This bodes well for future, ongoing resident engagement and for an increase in Behavioral Health resources.
Top three challenges you have faced with your work with Healthier Together:
- Building a Steering Committee whose members accurately reflect the multi-cultural mix of the Lake Worth Community.
- Getting multi-cultural engagement; it is difficult to avoid having one cultural group from dominating the conversation (metaphorically). It is easy to see good numbers, and say things are going well. It is much harder to look into the numbers and realize there is a poor mix of the various cultures in the community.
- Sustaining momentum is always a challenge. There is a fine line between staying relevant and becoming “white noise” heard, but no longer paid attention to.
- Continue to formalize the HLW Steering Committee
- Create Action Groups
- Create a Vision and Mission Statement for HLW
- “Force Fields” exercises
- Defining “Behavioral Health” – What does it mean to the community?
- Determination by the community of priorities and the direction that HLW should take.
- Develop Action Plan.
- Create an Awareness Campaign.
- Continue to identify ways of increasing Community Engagement