By Katie Sobiech
In efforts to better coordinate community health and human services, the Healthy Summit began to form. As it began to take shape, 15 areas of interest surfaced. These 15 areas became committees, which included:
1. Early Childhood
2. Partnership for Success
3. Income, Education and Workforce
4. Public Safety
5. Housing Affordability
6. Financial Literacy
7. Court and Social Services
8. Older Adults
9. Senior Independent Living Coaltion
13.SSAB Large Committee
14.Subcommittee Health and Human Services
15.Subcommittee Budget and Levy
Each of these committees was organized by people who were deemed to be community experts in particular areas.
“This was James McCarthy’s initial idea. It was his baby. He was really ahead of his time. That’s all he wanted – to have one assessment and make it work for everybody,” Donna Skoda, Deputy Health Commissioner for Planning at Summit County Public Health, shared.
“When Russ Pry came in after him, he had the same philosophy. Just as supportive,” she continued.
Spotting the Connection
As the 15 groups continued to meet, eventually they realized that the same themes kept coming out in each of the organizational meetings. Everything seemed to be connected in some way.
For instance, it was hard to talk about housing affordability if a person’s need for a job or mental health services wasn’t addressed, because often the two were tied. Everything was interrelated.
“(People) weren’t working because they didn’t receive the appropriate mental health services and therefore couldn’t afford a place to live,” Skoda explained.
Developing the 5 Initiatives
As they continued to iron out the issues, the 15 groups ended up merging into 5 Initiatives, in 2009, including:
1. Early Childhood
2. Older Adults
3. Health and Health Disparities
4. Government efficiency and effectiveness.
5. Income Education and Prosperity Committees
Run by the Community
The beauty of this project is that it is run by many different members of the community, focusing on different aspects of life.
“Once we launch a project, we stay out of it. We let other people in the community take it,” Donna Skoda, Deputy Health Commissioner for Planning at Summit County Public Health, shared.
“The intent is not for us to run the program, but to get it in a home in the community so it can live happily ever after,” she continued.
An example of this is Bridges out of Poverty.
“We started it first out of a quality of life income education thing, but now we’ve turned it over to United Way and the collaborative and it’s all of their work,” she explained.
Health and Health Disparities is just getting launched.
“We’re convening a workgroup of data. We’re looking at a model, much like the one we used in Portage County, to identify the indicators that greatly impact the outcomes,” Skoda said.
And they are convening local groups and focus groups.
Ready, Set, Go
Taking baby steps, they release full control of the projects to the community when they are ready.
“We (Summit County Public Health) could never maintain these projects and we know that. We could never do them service. We built a capacity here and it’s a community capacity,” Skoda said.
“If I picked up these projects and hired 10 people to work on them, then the capacity lies within the health district. That isn’t what we wanted. We want it out in the community so other people can deal with it and actually do the work,” she continued.
Jerry Craig, Executive Director of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADM) Board, sums this project up by simply saying “It looks at creating a healthy community.”
The “Summit 20/20”, as it’s also known as, is an initiative out of the Social Services Advisory Board that works with the community.
It’s designed to address community issues such as what Craig refers to as “socio-economic and life indicators.”
Together, they work on creating a healthier community through a variety of different programs.
“We’re realizing we can’t do these things in a vacuum. It’s really the community coming together to work on these things,” Craig shared.
As everyone focus on their own niche, or area of expertise, while reporting back and joining forces with the others, it has proven to upgrade overall community impact in ways that couldn’t be done before.
Don’t miss our continuation of this series as we dig deeper and share more about the Healthy Summit’s efforts within the community, the positive changes that have come forth and where they still hope to take this.
You can also find out more on their website: http://www.healthysummit.org
If you have any story ideas, questions, or comments you can contact: Katie@akroneur.com.