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Department Uses Prize to Highlight Community Efforts

NWCPHP designed a postcard for Clark County Public Health as part of a raffle prize won by a Leadership Institute scholar. The postcard features a Clark County Public Health program called Faith-Based Coffee.

NWCPHP designed a postcard for Clark County Public Health as part of a raffle prize won by a Leadership Institute scholar. The postcard features a Clark County Public Health program called Faith-Based Coffee.

March 7, 2013

One of the raffle prizes given out at our 2012 Summer Institute and Leadership Institute joint onsite was a postcard designed to promote a health department program or initiative. A staff member from Clark County Public Health based in Vancouver, Washington, won this prize and the department selected its Faith-Based Coffee program to be featured on the postcard.

Faith-Based Coffee is a program that brings people together to talk about how faith communities, public health agencies, and other social service organizations can work together to support neighborhoods. Anne Johnston, a Public Health Nurse at Clark County Public Health, coordinates Faith-Based Coffee in partnership with Sue Hoeffner, a nurse employed part-time by Trinity Lutheran Church.

Johnston says, “As our department continues to face funding challenges, we need to ensure that resources put into delivering maternal and child health services are supplemented by community efforts that support health for children.”

Central Vancouver is the geographical focus area for the group. A needs assessment conducted by Johnston and her colleagues showed that children in central Vancouver had poorer health outcomes than in other parts of the county.

Faith-Based Coffee started in spring 2012. Since then, participants from a variety of faith communities, including but not limited to Unitarian, Catholic, and Protestant churches, have been attending to share coffee, fruit, and ideas about how to make their neighborhoods healthier. At a recent gathering of the group, participants learned about the Adverse Childhood Experience Study and how later-life health is affected by early experiences and why what they do in their ministries is so important to helping children overcome those experiences.

Johnston describes participants as enthusiastic and says they have expressed an interest in developing a visual “identity” for the group. Johnston hopes the postcard design will be a good place to start with this request.

One example of how the group is making a difference is by partnering with schools in central Vancouver. One school traditionally had low attendance for their curriculum night, averaging around 100 participants. Their partner church offered to host a spaghetti dinner, and 400 people showed up for the event.

Johnston acknowledges that this is a very different approach to maternal and child health than what people have been used to. But it is a sustainable approach that can produce results even in times of low funding for public health. “We want use our expertise to build internal capacity so that communities will be able to provide safe and healthy environments for children.”

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