Making Health Happen
Launched in fall 2016, Healthier Neighbors became the fourth Healthier Together community, encompassing Riviera Beach and northern West Palm Beach. Healthier Neighbors’ focus is behavioral health, which is defined by the community as being resilient where neighbors are engaged and empowered and are balanced in mind, body and spirit. While the two communities are distinct municipalities, the initiative aims to seek commonalities as well as unique community cultures in relation to behavioral health. Community Partners of South Florida is the initiative’s fiscal agent.
We connect local and natural assets to opportunities and creative strategies to improve behavioral health in the 33401, 33407 and 33404 zip codes.
Our community is resilient and our neighbors are engaged, empowered and balanced in mind, body and spirit.
Healthier Neighbors is creating pathways where neighbors can participate and thrive in mind, body and spirit, by challenging and overcoming root causes impacting behavioral health, including trauma and violence, in our community.
Community Planning with a focus on resiliency
Moving from community problems being solved outside the community to being solved with and within the community.
Faith-based Organizations & Community
Moving from internally focused to outward facing community resources responsive to community needs.
Healthy Food Access
Moving from what’s convenient and available to opportunities to choose healthy food options.
Moving from uninformed local residents and community assets to engaged and valued partners designing and living out innovative strategies to improve health.
- Healthier Neighbors has engaged pastors and members of the faith community to become ambassadors for the initiative. The program is mutually beneficial as the pastors are shifting from an internal focus (their congregations) to a more external focus (all who live in their surrounding communities) to live more deeply in their missions. One example of impact is a church’s partnership with Healthier Neighbors and the Palm Beach County Food Bank to offer an onsite pop-up pantry.
- Healthier Neighbors is facilitating and helping to implement the health component of The Mayor’s Village Initiative, a City of West Palm Beach effort to prevent and reduce youth violence and improve outcomes for young African American males 25 years old and younger living in three neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by violence, crime, and social/economic disadvantages. Healthier Neighbors will champion the health pillar in the mayor’s plan to: 1) locate current resources and gather an inventory of services provided in the community; 2) redefine health in the African American community based on resident input; and 3) ensure community health behaviors include a cultural competency lens.
- The creation of the Keep Calm and Ask Crew – a group of formal and informal community leaders—came together to be responsive to the community processing the fatal shooting of a young black man in Riviera Beach. The approach was so successful, the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission adapted the approach to offer communities across the county. Read more about this key win here.
Compared to the other Healthier Together communities, Healthier Neighbors attempted to bridge two of the largest municipalities in Palm Beach County with two distinct city governments, identities and reputations.
Where We Stumbled
Given the size of the initiative’s catchment area, expectations for impact had to be recalibrated. Not wanting to favor one community over another, the project director and steering committee spent time ensuring there was representation from both areas. Their version of network weaving didn’t necessarily equate to spending money. Rather, a lot of their time has been spent demonstrating that the residents are in fact in the driver’s seat of this initiative.
Where We Thrived
Faith based organizations linked the two communities and became an instrumental factor in the initiative’s potential for impact. Churches interested in growing their community presence and living into their missions beyond their four walls became ambassador sites to promote work that supported health and wellness.
The Tipping Point
Healthier Neighbors has been very responsive and adaptive to the communities’ interests and needs. Often, following a community tragedy, by continually assessing the communities’ pulse, Healthier Neighbors will respond quickly to community voices to offer a safe environment for communities to process events.