Unlocking Our Community Strengths
Healthier Glades launched in fall 2017 in the historically underserved rural area of Palm Beach County with rich culture and agricultural assets. “The Glades” is the collective of four communities—Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay and the unincorporated community of Canal Point—located in the western section of the county along Lake Okeechobee. Healthier Glades’ focus is behavioral health, with the goal for residents to thrive physically, emotionally and spiritually. Community Partners of South Florida serves as the initiative’s fiscal agent.
To assist residents in coping with life stressors and to create a sense of mental well-being that will impact the Glades communities.
The Glades is a community where all residents are thriving physically, emotionally and spiritually.
- See shifts in organizational, community and individual mindsets
- Support an empowered and activated community
- Increased quality of life
- The Glades communities are optimistic about the future
- Behavioral health
- Rewriting the Glades’ communities’ narrative
- Storytelling through SenseMaker®, recognition and celebration
- Supporting healthy activities through community health campaigns, Better Health campaigns and self-care projects addressing social connectedness, mental health and community resiliency
- Developing and nurturing participation channels such as youth advisory groups and growing advocacy muscle
- Open Table, a national model that brings together faith organizations, government, business, healthcare, non-profit and other sectors to help individuals and families experiencing poverty, was launched following a Health Dialogue to Action group in Belle Glade. The initiative now has four active tables working with families with highly complex situations.
- The launch of mini-grants to support grassroots behavioral health programs in the region has funded a range of projects impacting veterans, caregivers, young children and teens and the homeless. Some grantees were able to pivot their initiatives during COVID-19 to support the community’s urgent needs.
- Strong youth engagement as part of the Healthier Glades network has led to training youth as data collectors and deploying them as photographers to document life in the Glades communities.
- Trust has been built between Palm Health Foundation and the communities, and a willingness to try new approaches is evident.
Palm Health Foundation’s board was hesitant of the Glades’ engaging in this work given a long history of challenges with Glades power structures to partner in different ways. At the same time, the community distrusted funders and systems from their own long history of many promises made but not kept. It took time to establish trust and find the “coalition of the willing.”
Where We Stumbled
Skepticism from both the foundation about “readiness” and the community about distrust of funders and “help” suggested that perhaps the Glades communities would not be fully engaged. Along the way, the process encountered gatekeepers who believed they were serving the best interests of their community. It took time to navigate through this dynamic, develop relationships and build trust.
Where We Thrived
The foundation consistently showed up and listened without answers. Having convened a number of community-wide gatherings, and encountering skepticism, the foundation supported a series of health “Dialogue to Action” sessions in the three major communities (Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee) in partnership with Community Partners of South Florida, a trusted, community-focused nonprofit and member organization of EveryDay Democracy, who has over 30 different types of dialogue to action guides. Through the process, clear champions were identified who clearly showed interest in experimenting with a new way to address inequities in their communities.
The Tipping Point
Having selected behavioral health as their focus area, the initiative quickly found their shared purpose. Rewriting the Glades narrative and developing participation channels contributed to turning the tide.