On June 28 CHEER conducted the first of a series of events at Essex House, a Takoma Park high rise on Maple Avenue that houses a large number of African and African-American residents. This event included a presentation from Msache Mwaluko from the African American Health Program on how to get health care, and an introduction to the community health improvement process. Although just a small group of residents turned out for the event, the quality of the engagement was extremely good, and feedback was very positive. We anticipate that attendance will grow with the next two events in the series.
The next event at Essex House will be a showing of the PBS documentary “Unnatural Causes” in July, followed by an event for residents two weeks later where they can share stories about health and well-being. This third event will be designed to identify shared vision and goals. This series is intended to provide information that is of interest and value to Essex House residents and to provide valuable qualitative research information that allows CHEER to continue a process that will fulfill the research objectives of a community assessment of health, housing, and local economy.
One of the key objectives for CHEER’s community health improvement process is to understand, map and assess the social networks in targeted neighborhoods. The quality of social networks is a crucial determinant of health. Connecting these social networks to resources, opportunities, and services is a primary function of the community health improvement process. The community health improvement process is also intended to build the relationships needed to assess other key indicators of health and well being, such as health status, health care access, health behaviors, housing conditions, and economic opportunities.
Once the pilot series at Essex House is completed, CHEER will evaluate the lessons learned in order to establish a flexible model that can be employed in additional locations. Locations will be selected to show in depth snapshot views of the diversity of experience and quality of life conditions for Takoma Park and Long Branch residents.
The community health improvement process is also intended to build CHEER’s credibility and relationships in the community, so that it can conduct more extensive research activities that will provide credible and useful information on the most important quality of life indicators at the neighborhood level and among specific sub-populations.
To carry out this plan, CHEER will need volunteers willing to work with specific neighborhoods to perform tasks such as staffing events, conducting interviews, gathering and sharing information on resources and opportunities, and conducting outreach.
If you are interested in volunteering for this process, or hosting a showing of “Unnatural Causes” in your own home or neighborhood, please contact Bruce Baker at 301-589-3633 or by email at [email protected].