Hammonton Health Coalition
In 2016 Allies in Caring (AIC) co-initiated the Hammonton Health Coalition (HHC). The Coalition is an initiative led by 13 cross-sector organizations in South Jersey. Its mission is to help residents improve their mental and physical health by implementing creative programs that recognize and take advantage of Hammonton’s unique social, economic, and natural resources.
The Coalition decided to focus first on identifying, developing, promoting, and engaging existing community assets to promote health by making Hammonton an inclusive community that serves all residents’ needs and draws on all residents’ talents.
Coalition members create a civic environment to more effectively carry out projects to address our higher rates of opioid use, obesity, and food insecurity than the statewide average.
These challenges are particularly acute among our town’s growing Latino community members who face high poverty levels, discrimination, and exclusion. In 2018 we were selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grantee to support this effort.
During 2019 we recruited and mentored ten community connectors. These are bi-lingual, bi-cultural Latinx community members representing different genders, ethnicities, races, ages, documented status, education, and socio-economic levels.
The connectors have learned about the Culture of Health framework and Social Determinants of Health. They have investigated the institutions and organizations in our community and the services and opportunities they offer.
They have spread this information among their networks, and they have engaged their networks to develop and participate in new projects.
The Connectors work during 2021
Helping community members connect with the resources they need in the language they understand was one of the main challenges the connectors faced during the pandemic. So, this year, the Hammonton Health Coalition (HHC) helped many local organizations translate their communications to Spanish, from local bus routes to food distribution event flyers.
They also started offering two new services to the community: A helpline in Spanish that receives from 10 to 15 calls per week from people looking for information and support and in collaboration with Allies in Caring, they also offer a navigation service at Con-Vivir Wellness Hub to link people with the community services they need. This space was also helpful for Latin kids looking for help with their homework after school, as some of their parents don't speak English.
The Connectors work during 2021
Finding financial resources to support the community members whose primary source of income was affected by the pandemic was another main goal of the Connectors this year. In collaboration with local organizations, businesses, and families, they were able to fundraise $8,000. More than 300 families in Hammonton, NJ, benefited from their food distribution program and eight high school students were awarded $400 grants as part of their Hispanic Leadership Scholarships Program.
Finally, helping people reconnect with their community members had an important place on the connector's plan this year. In collaboration with Allies in Caring, they co-host many different community events, like the Hispanic Heritage Celebration and webinars, to share information about the COVID-19 vaccine and locally available college scholarships. They also helped more than 150 community members register for the Covid-19 Vaccine.
The pandemic has taken away so many things from us this year but also has allowed us to be there for each other. The connectors have played an essential role in Hammonton, NJ, bringing information and resources to community members who usually don't have access due to language and cultural barriers. To learn more about the connectors' work, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HammontonHealthCoalition1
Connecting the Dots for Better Health
Beginning in 2020, the Coalition is carrying out a project titled Connecting the Dots for Better Health: Data, Community, and Opportunities, with funding from NJ Health Initiatives, which aims to address the effects of poverty, racism, and adverse childhood experiences as they apply to immigrant families in Hammonton, by providing the means for every resident to participate in community health conversations; supporting representation among community leaders, and improving access to health resources.
The Coalition identified obesity and insufficient access to recreation as focus areas for this project. The Coalition engages the community connectors in data collection efforts and incorporates information from its health partners to inform community initiatives.
Through this project, Hammonton is one of 10 New Jersey communities to receive a suite of tools that include a community data dashboard developed by City Health Dashboard.