This summer, we had our Connectors’ meeting at a local Mexican eatery, where we shared information about the connectors’ roles, the intent of our project and identified bilingual leaders in the Latinx community that were ready to take on this work. A handful of individuals accepted the role. Meet them here. We developed a plan and decided to meet every Wednesday. These meetings have been used to build our relationship, and to educate ourselves about New Jersey Health Initiatives’ (NJHI) & the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s vision of a Culture of Health, Health Equity, Social Determinants of Health, Social Capital, and more.
A communications committee created a Hammonton Health Coalition Facebook page to share information about our work. This opened an opportunity for people to ask about our coalition. During our Wednesday meetings, Connectors also learn about the services and opportunities offered by our partner organizations. In one remarkable meeting, Richard Rehmann, from Adams, Rehmann and Heggan Associates, introduced his parents Chris and Loretta, who shared their story of immigration to our community. They brought pictures to share history and show how time can repeat itself. Coming from immigrant families, the Rehmanns understand and share sentiments with other Hispanic community members seeking opportunity in Hammonton.
In July, De Amon Harges, an expert in Asset-Based Community Development, facilitated exercises that allowed us to uncover and share the gifts of the mind, heart and hands that each of us contribute. We also learned how we can continue to make the contributions of our community more visible and utilize those contributions to promote everyone’s well-being. Then an opportunity presented itself – we put our talents to work by supporting the coordination of the August Third Thursday Fiesta. We helped by engaging other Latinos, inviting them to contribute their talents and help translate. Others shared their connections with DJs and dance teachers, while still others offered their ability to persuade neighbors to participate. According to Cassie Iaccovelli, director of Main Street, it was the most successful Fiesta.
This summer gave us an opportunity to discover each person’s assets. We have poets, dancers, leaders and community liaisons among us. In addition, we’ve learned about the challenges of undocumented members of the community, whom despite our efforts to engage them, refuse to join events because they don’t yet feel safe. We will continue to learn about our partner organizations and identify opportunities to respond to community needs such as English classes, child care, and safety, through our relationships.
Connect with us to learn more about our work to build a healthier community.