Healthy Communities Coalition (HCC) strives to include a diverse population over several hundred miles, and thus we have multiple ways for our communities to become involved including coalition membership, community volunteerism, youth prevention teams and board membership. All HCC meetings are open to all and anyone can become a member by filling out a simple application and attending meetings.
HCC membership focuses on federal, state and local agencies, direct service providers, and community members who work in strategy teams such as food security; mental health and suicide prevention; opioid, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use prevention; senior issues; student health and school safety; and access to health care and job training to address needs as they surface in our communities. Our strategy teams lead the coalition members to help meet those needs through effective collaboration.
The HCC Board of Directors governs and leads the Coalition and acts as the “glue” to help hold the Coalition together and maintain our vision and mission.
What role does HCC have in our communities?
We use the social change paradigm of Collective Impact and within that paradigm, HCC functions as the backbone agency. Our work is also heavily influenced by Creating the Future and their ideal of catalytic thinking. This means we support organizations, governments, and citizens to work together to solve complex social issues by bringing out the best in people within systems to achieve a shared positive future for all in our community. We have come to discover, over the years, that this backbone role is complex because community issues come and go and thus the “feel” of the Coalition has changed accordingly. For example, HCC started as a prevention coalition. As our collective work deepened, we searched for upstream causal factors, and thus together we have addressed poverty, elevated our role within food security, made pathways from volunteerism to paid employment, built networks of volunteers to support each other, sparked a jail diversion system in the adult population, and addressed factors to prevent a “school to prison pipeline,” and have strengthened behavioral supports with a broad band of Safe School Professionals as part of the school-based MTSS teams.
An additional workforce created with Ameri-Corps members who serve their communities through HCC has been extremely effective in schools, community gardens, supports for homebound seniors, etc. and with events such as prescription drug roundups. Many of the AmeriCorps members who have worked with HCC began as local community volunteers and have gone on to further their education and to excel in their career lives. As we move into our sixth year of AmeriCorps, we are excited to see how HCC has grown and developed through their tireless help and look forward to a new AmeriCorps implementation beginning 2023 focused on financial literacy for our community members.
The evolution of a robust NV Community Health Worker Association housed within HCC has brought incredible diversity to our workforce, not only in our service area but statewide. Community Health Workers (CHW) currently serve in a multitude of roles at HCC, from prevention education in our schools and food pantries, to Resource Coordinators within the Safe School Professional teams. Providing wellness checks for our most vulnerable populations such as our elders, partnering with UNR School of Medicine on Rural Outreach Clinics providing primary care, women’s health and immunizations and providing oral health education, prevention and connection to referrals within the schools. As trusted members of the community, CHWs act as the= bridge to services and are vital to building and strengthening relationships, and partnerships.
Although the issues and leaders may change, the community organizing strategies stay similar, and so do our shared principles.
These shared values are:
- Reciprocity and empowerment
- Radical inclusion
- All people are valuable
- Equality not sameness
- Meet people/organizations where they are
- We are all interconnected and interdependent whether we acknowledge that or not
- Relationships are key
- Diversity deeply valued—social ecosystems
- Strength builds upon strengths, not weaknesses
- We accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for and
- Individuals will go where systems lead them and we are the system.
Eight Everyday Strategies of HCC
Shared values/principles are extremely important, but what does the day to day work look like?
Our day to day work roughly falls into the following activities and 8 broad strategies:
Actively build trust by nurturing direct productive relationships between people within governments, agencies, and communities—bringing out the best in all.
This strategy has been strengthened by the increased presence and engagement of CHWs both within HCC and partner agencies.
Work with diverse groups and individuals to nurture shared visions and strategies around what the partners and citizens deem important for our community.
These visions and strategies are constantly changing and shifting as partners contribute their insights and collective knowledge and thus capacity grows. Our role is to help with the constant communication of these shared visions and strategies as the relationships progress or change. We do this by asking people key questions in collaborative environments—establishing consensus, trust, and foundations for relationships. Our history of collaboration and flexibility has been extremely important during the COVID-19 epidemic as business and agencies were less accessible. Our food pantries remained open as an essential service and were highly utilized. Our CHWs leaned in heavily on partners to identify needed services for community members, particularly regarding immunizations. CHWs assisted over 450 seniors in accessing Covid immunizations and helped bring immunization clinics to our most rural Silver Springs residents.
Align and coordinate so that the partners are all contributing mutually reinforcing activities to the collective project.
This coordination also helps new projects or partners begin not at square one, but to build upon and contribute to the collective work—honoring those who have already contributed and thus building from our shared strengths, challenges, and wisdom. Perhaps Lyon County’s greatest asset is the ability to embrace a collaborative approach, sharing resources and leveraging programs in a collective impact model.
Create and support shared measurement so that the community or collective can celebrate the successes and learn from failures.
We want to foster an environment where people are not afraid to fail, not afraid to ask for help when needed, and are willing to contribute their wisdom and feel empowered to innovate. A shared system of measurement helps people understand and relax into knowing many are tackling these tough issues. Because we are working together, we are more willing to take risks and allow for innovation—failure becomes a valuable and natural lesson learned for all. These lessons learned are needed and expected to occur to progress forward in a more productive, collective manner.
Partner in building public will for the collective work.
Advance an agreed upon and aligned advocacy and policy agenda.
Mobilize, coordinate and leverage funding to support the collective effort.
Actively seek to engage community members to create a space where all people, who are willing, can share their gifts and talents with the collective and be part of the solution. This also ensures that activities are not done to people but with them.
These 8 strategies require a diversity of skills and yet they are critical to bringing out the best in people, so that we are able to nourish relationships that will maintain alignment across the multitud