The Hammonton Health Coalition (HHC) began the year by reflecting on the knowledge we gained in 2019. Individuals from 10 stakeholder organizations and our Community Connectors shared their perspectives on our goal to build a culture of inclusion in Hammonton. Many resonated with three empowering words: energy, engagement, and collaboration. What most people have shared is how rewarding it is to work together with such a diverse group of people, which brings different perspectives and with that, challenges. Yet our common objective remains the same: establishing Hammonton as a model for an inclusive community.
Our work in 2019 reinforced that we all have value.
Benjamin Ott, President of the Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce, summarized his learning as follows, “Our work last year reinforced that we all have value. The most moving part has been the assets-based work we have done to explore our individual gifts and how we can each give back to the community with our (talents from the) head, heart, hands and soul.” Ben captured the path that the entire team has experienced in learning about each other’s talents and how everyone can contribute to making a better community.
Another significant part of the road traveled in 2019 was learning to work out differences by obtaining agreement and empathy from everyone.
“Engaging community voices from different perspectives and backgrounds has given us a clear understanding that we really need a strong foundation to make sure our work is effective, and we have been able to address this,” said Food Justice Coordinator Kathia Ramirez from Comite de Apoyo para Trabajadores Agriculturales, a support committee for farm workers. In addition, HHC Community Connector Alaniz Medina shared how working with different people has given him motivation, and he also appreciates and understands that helping others is something great. In 2019, we had two remarkable milestones besides self-growth for each of the individual HHC members. The first milestone was the increased collaboration between stakeholders and Community Connectors. The second was the beginning of our community engagement work through at-home conversations and special events to identify our town’s individual talents and how everyone can contribute to a healthier, more equitable Hammonton.
Moving to our next phase of work, we will support English as a Second Language classes as another bridge to connect with the community. Plenty of energy has come from HHC’s initial meetings and conversations, which lights the path to a prosperous 2020.