When we have the opportunity to talk about our work at New Jersey Health Initiatives, one of the first things we say is, what a privilege it is to do. That privilege is never more evident than when we get the opportunity to spend time with our grantees, their partners and community members, in their communities, seeing firsthand the commitment they have to their communities and experiencing the positive changes they are making for New Jersey residents. We don’t get to visit our grantee communities nearly as often as we’d like, but we have been out and about the state these past few months, getting an amazing look at our grantees’ hard work under our 2015 Building a Culture of Health in NJ–Communities Moving to Action (CMA) Initiative.
An 85-mile hop to Irvington
In August, we spent a hot Friday night in a crowded city council room in Irvington, as the Irvington Health Coalition not only laid out their plan to address some of the most pressing issues in this small Essex County community, but also listened to and addressed residents’ questions and concerns in an open and productive dialogue. Sometimes these are not easy conversations, and the solutions don’t happen quickly, but this type of interactive conversation is developing a level of trust between residents, city representatives, and coalition members that will bolster development of mutually beneficial solutions. Read more about the work in Irvington
The 35-mile skip to Trenton
Earlier this fall, we met members of the Healthy Trenton Coalition at a picnic table at the Greenwood Avenue Farmers Market, while residents received health screenings and purchased fresh local produce and bread, and neighborhood school children enjoyed after-school snacks and activities. Health care providers, social service organizations, produce purveyors and even a local baker are committed to making access to healthy choices and services as easy as possible for residents of all ages and backgrounds. Read more about the work in Trenton
A combined 105-mile jump to Newark and Morristown
Recently in Newark and Morristown, we attended coalition steering committee meetings, witnessing the commitment of sometimes unlikely partners – health care providers, institutes of higher education, media outlets – to work together, to roll up their sleeves and develop plans to attack deep-rooted community issues that will likely take longer than our funding period to make a significant difference. But they are up for the challenge – not wavering on their dedication to improve conditions that affect health issues like housing, education, the environment, behavioral health and more.
Read more about the work in Newark
Read more about the work in Morristown
It is largely through the work of our grantees that NJHI can claim success. Building healthier, stronger, thriving New Jersey communities is work not to be taken lightly. In 2016, we funded a second round of grantees through this initiative, for a total of 20 New Jersey communities. Our grantees are working hard daily, strengthening their coalitions, breaking down barriers among organizations that may sometimes be in competition, all for the long-term betterment of their communities. Their commitment to put the community first is laudable, and it is also what makes coming to work at NJHI each day so rewarding.
Related Videos: See whether your community is a Communities Moving to Action (CMA) grantee