Hammonton Health Coalition Connectors Bring the Community Together
In our last blog post, the Hammonton Health Coalition (HHC) announced that as part of an effort to expand the Coalition’s work to work to promote inclusion and empowerment among the Latinx communities and other underserved people in Hammonton, NJ, we were going to hire a part-time community organizer in conjunction with a member organization. Recently the Coalition and their collaborating member, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, were able to fill that position and are excited to bring that extra capacity to the HHC’s work.
This year, the HHC is focusing on four major program areas, while also continuing to build up the Community Connectors team. The Community Connectors program has been the main focus of the HHC’s work for many years, recruiting interested community members to be links between services and town activities, and advocates for more inclusive services and programs for underserved communities in Hammonton. This is a leadership development program that also provides mentoring and support for Connectors. We have seen several connectors come and go throughout the program, and we have seen firsthand how their experiences as Community Connectors have helped them to identify, develop, cultivate their skills, and move on to other opportunities within the community.
The Community Connectors, with support from the HHC partners, are leading many of the coalition’s programs and initiatives including the planning for Latino Heritage Month, a resource fair for the school district, a women’s empowerment group, and a scholarship fund for Latino High School seniors going to college. As they have been building relationships and connections with the Hammonton community, they have also become a resource to help residents meet immediate needs and connect them to available social and community services.
In April, the Community Connectors led a community event in collaboration with another Hammonton initiative called Hammonton Heart & Soul, a program that seeks to gather feedback and stories from the community to help Hammonton continue to grow and serve all residents. The Connectors worked with the Hammonton Heart & Soul team to invite community members to a family-friendly event where they shared their input about what is missing from the town and what they would like to see. There were giveaways, food, kids’ activities, and lots of community sharing. The feedback and stories shared the participants shared will help the HHC and the Community Connectors learn more about the community’s needs and shape the future phases of the coalition’s work.