Below are projects that we have worked on and completed. Much of this work continues to bear fruit through on-going partnership relationships and as it informs other projects and programs.
Communities Putting Prevention to Work
Communities Putting Prevention to Work is a major obesity prevention project of the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH). The project aims to mobilize towns, schools, health care providers, community organizations and residents to promote changes in policies, systems and physical environment to make it easier for people to make healthy choices and live active lives. There are many partners working with the CCDPH to provide expertise and resources for the project. The Center’s role is to integrate faith communities into the larger project.
Our activities include:
- Providing support to the faith-based entities recieving grants through the Model Communities program–a local funding initiative under CPPW;
- Hosting Dialogues in congregations and communities about the role people of faith can play in shifting toward a more healthy culture;
- Offering Action Workshops to help people of faith engage at a deeper level with the issues around obesity
- Mobilizing people of faith for action around key policy initiatives
Contact us if you’d like to learn more about our project activities and outcomes.
Faith-Based Community Health Worker Project
In 2010, The Center convened a coalition of congregations and public health and community organizations in the city of Waukegan to explore the possibility of creating a faith-based community health worker program. Community Health Workers (CHWs), also known as Promotores de Salud or Lay Health Promoters, are trusted people in communities who receive health education and leadership development around the health issues impacting the community. They use their knowledge to promote health among their peers through formal workshops, but also through their relationships. This kind of mutual support activity is often what happens in faith communities, so the CHW model is well suited to being located in congregations.
The coalition developed a plan and submitted a grant proposal to the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County. The Foundation funded the project in January 2011, with HealthConnect One, an organization that trains and develops CHW programs around the country, taking the lead.
The program is located in two anchor institutions:
Family First, a social service organization affiliated with Jesus’ Name Apostolic Church
Puente Latino, a community organization founded by the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Episcopal Church
Following the grant period, both organizations continue to support CHW programs for their community members.
Assessing Emergency Preparedness Capacity
From May through July, 2011, The Center carried out an assessment of religious communities and faith-based organizations in Suburban Cook County regarding their current degree of preparedness for an emergency (such as a weather disaster, pandemic, or terrorist event) and their readiness and openness to partner in a coordinated public health response. We performed this work under a contract with the Cook County Department of Public Health. CCDPH was interested in building its ability to quickly and strategically reach out to faith communities and networks in the event of a flu outbreak or other public health emergency.
Rev. Jacki Belile, founder and director of Living Well Ministries, served as a consultant to The Center on this project. She designed and carried out extensive interviews and generated an impressive list of additional contacts. For those she did not have time to interview, Jacki created a google survey to capture as much information as possible. Take the survey!
Jacki interviewed or profiled twenty-five organizations. The information she gathered was entered into the searchable faith and health map and directory on this website. This map and directory are for use by the public and anyone interested in faith and health to find faith communities with capacity to address health. To see those with Emergency Preparedness capacity, search for Emergency Preparedness under “Health Topics.”
This project especially targeted faith communities that serve or are in contact with people considered “vulnerable”–older adults, people with limited English, people with mental illness, children, people with disabilities.
- Weather disasters and geological events of 2011 have made this topic a timely topic of consideration.
- Faith communities are very open to partnering on emergency response.
- Most religious communities have established communication structures (ex. Deacons’ list, phone tree, “cell groups,” etc) which may have never before been considered an asset for emergency response.
- The physical capacities of buildings adminstered by participants vary. Most of those interviewed are willing to share their space, but the space may not always be suitable.
- Religious communities often draw members from outside a local community. This my affectswho they can reach and how much of a resource they can be in their neighborhood.
- It is very important for religious leaders to have an established role with municipality leaders, including first responders.