How H.O.P.E. Is Closing the Gap on Savannah-Chatham’s Health Disparities
A status report on the $3.4 Million Racial and Ethnic Approach to Community Health (REACH) grant’s projects, partners and priorities.
(SAVANNAH, GA) In March 2020, everything changed. The Coronavirus crippled the American economy and many who were already living below the poverty line were hit hard. Sources of income dried up and service organizations that had helped in times past were hampered by shutdowns and emergency restrictions.
Meanwhile, in Savannah, a group of agencies and individuals working on a project called H.O.P.E. wondered what would happen to the program and to those who needed its services.
H.O.P.E. had launched a year and a half earlier, in September 2018, when a five-year REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) grant was awarded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to the YMCA of Coastal Georgia in partnership with Healthy Savannah, a public-private partnership that strives to make Savannah a healthier place. The aim of Savannah/Chatham County’s REACH project, Healthy Opportunities Powering Equity or H.O.P.E., would be to reduce health disparities among African-American and Hispanic/Latino Americans in seven low-wealth zip codes across Chatham County through long-term solutions vs. short-term fixes.
Through this funding, the local REACH team was tasked with closing the gaps in health disparities among those populations in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, and community-clinical linkages. 14 local organizations would receive grant funding and, in partnership with 60 local stakeholder groups and individuals, the H.O.P.E. project was underway.
“And then, the world ground to a halt when COVID hit,” said Paula Kreissler, executive director of Healthy Savannah and the local REACH team. “It seemed certain that most REACH-funded programs would have to pause. But, because some were deemed essential to operate through the shut-down, our teams were able to shift gears in how we connect them to those who need them. As a result, many of those REACH-funded programs have flourished.”
The REACH team includes program managers over three core areas: Deidre Grim oversees the Nutrition program, Armand Turner manages Physical Activity and Ty McClendon administers Clinical-Community Linkages.
One of the biggest successes to date is Farm Truck 912, the mobile version of the popular Forsyth Farmers’ Market. Even throughout COVID, it added four new stops and has operated six days a week on a schedule that takes it throughout Chatham County and across all economic strata.
Grim reports that Farm Truck 912 has seen a surge in demand, with overall sales up by 200 percent and a 400 percent increase in SNAP-funded purchases. The program launched its new Food Farmacy initiative in May and had its largest-ever one day sales on May 28, working with four health providers to serve low-wealth participants diagnosed at risk for chronic diet-related diseases.
“We also just wrapped up gathering data for our Photovoice Project, in which Black moms in Chatham county revealed their barriers to breastfeeding,” said Grim.
Led by Nandi Marshall, DrPH, MPH, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University, the project’s goal was to delve into the disparity revealed by a 2007 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card showing African Americans have the lowest rates of initiating and continuing breastfeeding as compared to all other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. The participants of Marshall’s study unanimously agreed that cultural norms are the main barriers and they want to see more places to breastfeed in faith-based organizations and retail spaces. Marshall and her team are currently coding the data collected during the project and expect to issue a final report by the end of this fiscal year.
The HealthMPowers Corner Store program is another REACH-funded nutrition-based initiative continuing to serve the community healthier food choices during the pandemic, growing from two to three locations in the past several months, with a fourth set to reopen after the pandemic.
Progress has also continued on the Tide to Town project. When complete, 30-plus miles of protected walking and bicycling trails will connect all of Savannah from the heart of the city to its waterways and marshes, including 62 Savannah neighborhoods, 30 public schools and all three major hospitals.
“The goal is to give families and kids a way to get all around the city and create a more active community,” said Turner. “Only one in two Americans are physically active and only half of adults get the physical activity they need to help reduce and prevent chronic diseases. In partnership with the Friends of Tide to Town, we are striving to help change that.”
Turner reports the first three miles of the section known as the Truman Linear Park Trail is currently nearing completion. When fully constructed, it will link 827 acres (1.3 miles) of existing parkland in Chatham County by connecting Lake Mayer Community Park to Daffin Park. The trail will provide an ADA accessible, off-road, shared-use path for transportation use by residents and tourists.
The HERO (Health Effective Resource Organizations) Database launched in January 2020 to help empower Savannah-Chatham county residents to be their own health advocates. This directory of online health and social services resources lists 883 agency contacts across 57 categories from childcare to substance abuse, food access, clinics and more.
“The aim of the HERO Database is to close the referral look by connecting low-wealth residents with this one-stop, all-inclusive resource,” said McClendon. “It’s a more valuable tool now than ever before.”
During the pandemic, McClendon says the HERO Database has enabled local organizations to work stronger together. For example, COVID-related hardships have increased the need for SNAP, Georgia’s federally-funded food stamp program. But recent policy changes now allow households to apply remotely for SNAP benefits. Plus, the USDA increased its SNAP benefit allotments to provide greater opportunity for low-income households to participate in the program. REACH helped grow SNAP participation by fostering awareness, providing nutritious foods and increasing distribution sites through partners including Step Up Savannah and Farm Truck 912.
“H.O.P.E. is closing the gap, and we are aware this gap has widened due to the pandemic,” Kreissler said. “Our mission is even more crucial now and we continue to work across all sectors to increase access to healthy food and activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations with our most vulnerable populations because it helps all of us and is the right thing to do.”
ABOUT REACH SAVANNAH:
In September of 2018, The YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Healthy Savannah were awarded a five-year, $3.4 million dollar Racial and Ethnic Approach to Community Health (REACH) grant from the Center for Disease Control. Through this funding, the Savannah / Chatham County REACH team works to close the gaps in health disparities among priority populations in Savannah and Chatham County in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, and community – clinical linkages. The local project is called HOPE, Healthy Opportunities Powering Equity. Working with over 20 community partners and organizations, the REACH team works to provide equal and consistent access to ensure the health and wellness of our community through policy, systems, and environmental change. www.ymcaofcoastalga.org www.healthysavannah.org
Carriage Trade Public Relations® Inc.
(SAVANNAH, GA) On Monday, July 20, 2020, from 12 PM – 1 PM, Creative Coast will host Marjorie Young, founder of Carriage Trade Public Relations for a free lunchtime workshop webinar. Marjorie will speak on three strategies to increase your visibility, credibility, and positive buzz in the community and online.
Marjorie founded Carriage Trade Public Relations® Inc., in 1995. Hers was the first PR firm in the Savannah area to embrace online PR. In 2013, the Savannah Morning News named Carriage Trade PR Small Business of the Year and in 2011, named Marjorie as Savannah’s Community Star. Marjorie also won Entrepreneur of the Year from the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce in 2006.
As the author of the REPUTATION MATRIX™, Marjorie holds frequent PR boot camps and monthly online coaching webinars.
“The goal of this webinar is to empower business owners and nonprofit organizations to take control of their social media, brand, and message. Ninety-two percent of new business comes from positive word of mouth. Workshop participants will walk away with three strategies to increase their presence in the community and online”.
Marjorie is the founder and the host of OPEN FOR BUSINESS, a show that airs on SGTV. She also founded COMMUNITY HEADLINES™, the local newswire service to the media, and has recently introduced COMMUNITY HEADLINES LIVE, a live-streamed talk show that airs every Monday to showcase local happenings and businesses.To register for the Webinar, please go to: https://thecreativecoast.org/event/virtual-lunchtime-topic-with-marjorie-young-3-strategies-to-increase-your-buzz-in-the-community-and-online?fbclid=IwAR2IhS8BR67QVtYrANscjUvoplbDD6B94PQaTIwpwKUSvuFzJuyfAmukcTw
Carriage Trade Public Relations®
2020 series debuts October 1 with live-streamed conversations on nutrition and physical fitness.
(SAVANNAH, GA) The Enmarket Encourage Health Education Series is going live! In partnership with Healthy Savannah, the popular series will launch its 2020 season on Thursday, October 1 with livestreamed online conversations featuring leading voices in the area of health, fitness and well-being.
Speaker nominations are currently being accepted through August 21.
“Over the past six years, program topics have covered a wide range of subject matter discussed by respected experts in the health field,” said Matt Clements, Enmarket’s Vice President of Marketing. “Now, with the impacts of the COVID pandemic affecting everyone in some way, it’s more important than ever to focus on ways to improve health and wellness, mental well-being, and stress reduction.”
This marks the seventh year for the Enmarket Encourage Health education series, in partnership with Healthy Savannah and supported by Savannah Morning News, City of Savannah, and the REACH Team of Savannah’s Project HOPE.
By going digital this year, the series is striving to safely engage with people wherever they are. Anyone with expertise in presenting a health-oriented topic focusing on nutrition, physical activity, or well-being should submit the concept to healthysavannah.org/presenter-application. The deadline for submissions Friday, August 21, 2020, by 5:00 pm.
Applications should include the presenter’s name, organization, job title, and contact information, along with the proposed topic, title, a summary paragraph of the proposed presentation, and supporting statistics. Applicants will also be asked for a brief biography and headshot. Each submission will be reviewed by the Encourage Health advisory board.
Because the events are non-commercial and center on offering health education to the Savannah community, speakers are asked to volunteer their time and not promote any specific product or service in their presentation.
Selected speakers for the quarterly series will be announced in early September.
The 2020 series will kick off on Thursday, October 1 at 1:00 p.m. The program will be live-streamed quarterly on Healthy Savannah’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/healthysav/, rebroadcast by Savannah’s Government Channel 8, and made available as a podcast by the Savannah Morning News.
Subsequent programs will be presented in 2021 at 1:00 p.m. on January 7, April 1, and July 1. There is no cost to participate. For additional programming details, visit healthysavannah.org.
For more information, contact Paula Kreissler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enmarket, Savannah’s largest convenience store chain, employs more than 1,400 people and operates 126 convenience stores, 14 quick-serve restaurants, and two fast-casual restaurants as the 49th largest convenience store operator in the country. Founded as Interstate Stations by Robert Demere in 1963, the retailer operates convenience stores in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina and was noted as the industry’s “Biggest Mover” in-store count ranking by Convenience Store News in 2018. The company is committed to giving back to the community through many charitable contributions and volunteer efforts, offering fresh food, healthy snacks, and competitively priced quality fuel as part of its mission to enrich life. www.enmarket.com
ABOUT HEALTHY SAVANNAH
Healthy Savannah, a 501C(3) public charity is a public/private coalition of over 200 businesses, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, schools, neighborhood organizations, and healthcare and government agencies, It began as an initiative of City of Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson, formed in 2007. Healthy Savannah leads and supports a culture of health in the Savannah area by creating an environment that makes a healthy choice the easy choice; building a collaborative network that identifies and shares resources; collecting and disseminating information, promoting best practices, and implementing innovative programs, and advocating for effective policies. Since its inception, this innovative, cross-sector collaboration has vastly benefited the community as evidenced by numerous multi-agency projects, grants, and policy initiatives that have emerged from the initiative to create and sustain a Healthy Savannah. For more information, visit www.healthysavannah.org
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Carriage Trade Public Relations®
Volunteer Lorraine Boice works with Safe Shelter,
children of victims, in their organic garden.
(SAVANNAH, GA) SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services is seeking the community’s help to raise $300,000 to continue serving a growing number of victims of domestic violence in the metro Savannah area during the COVID pandemic.
The organization is currently facing a 35 percent reduction of funding from across-the-board cuts in state aid and the cancellation of all fundraising events.
“Last year we helped more than 1,300 victims, including about 500 children, receive services,” said Cheryl Branch, executive director. “This year, domestic violence calls have risen nearly 20 percent since March in Chatham County due to the COVID virus. If history repeats itself, SAFE Shelter will experience another sharp uptick in the victim population as the summer heat progresses.”
Since 1979, SAFE Shelter has offered life-saving and life-changing services and programs to victims of domestic violence and their children free of charge. On average, it costs about $150 a week to feed a mother and three children, and that does not include the cost of additional victim assistance like mental, legal, and social services.
“For victims of domestic violence, quarantine means there’s nowhere to go.” Branch said. “In up to 60 percent of situations in which there is intimate partner violence, the perpetrator also abuses children in the household.”
SAFE Shelter’s annual giving gala was scheduled for November 21 but has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID pandemic. The event typically raises more than $200,000 through corporate sponsorships, live and silent auctions and individual donations.
To meet the shortfall, Branch is asking the public to help SAFE Shelter continue its vital work by honoring someone with the meaningful gift of a financial donation.
Tribute donations can include memorials or recognizing special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. SAFE Shelter will acknowledge gifts with a special message from the gift giver if included with the donation. As SAFE Shelter is an independent, unaffiliated 501©3 organization, all donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by the law.
MORE INFORMATION ON SAFE SHELTER
Founded in 1979, SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services is a 501©3 nonprofit organization committed to preventing domestic violence, protecting victims, and promoting positive change for families in need in our community. SAFE Shelter operates a 48-bed emergency shelter for victims of intimate partner violence and their children. All services are provided at no cost to the victim regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, immigration status, culture, or religion. Leading to safe and stable lives, services include courtroom advocacy, counseling services, and case management. In the shelter’s long history, no one who has been actively involved with our services or programs has been killed by his/her abuser. For more information on SAFE Shelter, visit safeshelter.org or call 912.629.0026. To reach the 24-hour crisis line, call 912.629.8888.
CEO and President
Carriage Trade PR
The Local Newswire
CENTER PARC CREDIT UNION TO OPEN THREE SAVANNAH AREA LOCATIONS
(SAVANNAH, GA) Center Parc Credit Union is expanding to the Savannah area. A division of APCU, the oldest credit union in the State of Georgia, Center Parc plans to open two Chatham County locations in September at the Pooler Walmart, 160 Pooler Parkway, and the Savannah Walmart, 6000 Ogeechee Road. Center Parc is also planning to open a free-standing flagship branch in the spring of 2021. For more information: www.centerparc.org
(SAVANNAH, GA) Free business webinar
CENTER PARC CREDIT UNION HELPS KICK OFF BACK TO SCHOOL GIVEAWAY
(CHATHAM COUNTY, GA) The 12th Annual READY! SET! GO! Back to School GIVEAWAY is scheduled for Saturday, August 8, 2020. This year’s drive-thru event to provide school supplies to 5,000 area students in need and will be held from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM at Garden City Recreation Center, 160 Priscilla Thomas Way. If you can donate school supplies for this event please visit: http://rsgbacktoschool.org/. This event is sponsored by WSAV and Center Parc Credit Union.
LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY’S PEOPLE OF THE YEAR
(SAVANNAH, GA) The winners of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man, Woman & Students of the Year campaigns were announced on Saturday, June 13 at virtual grand finale celebrations. Cathleen Barela of Keller Williams Realty was named Woman of the Year, raising $61,435. Jeff Maine of Proudly was named Man of the Year, raising $38,713. Cancer Crushers, led by E.B. Threlkeld, Caroline Ambos and Mattie Lynch, earned the title of Students of the Year by raising $65,213. For more information, contact email@example.com
ROYCE CENTER RECEIVES GRANT
(SAVANNAH, GA) Chatham Academy at Royce received a $1,000 grant from the Matthews Children’s Foundation through their friends at Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors.
ROTARY CLUB OF SAVANNAH ANNOUNCES NEW PRESIDENT-ELECT
(SAVANNAH, GA) Ted J. Kleisner, retired CEO and active community leader, has been elected 2020-21 president of the Rotary Club of Savannah. On June 29, the Rotary gavel will be passed on to Kleisner from outgoing president, Ellen B. Bolch, President and CEO of THA Group. For more information, visit www.savrotary.org
FARM TRUCK 912
(SAVANNAH, GA) Farm Truck 912 is a mobile farmers’ market is delivering local seasonal fruits and vegetables to Savannah neighborhoods throughout the week, even during the COVID pandemic. All of the fruits, vegetables, and agricultural products are sourced directly from the Saturday market vendors. Farm Truck 912 accepts credit, debit, and cash as forms of payment. In addition, the farm truck also accepts and doubles SNAP/EBT benefits. This program is supported by the YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Healthy Savannah through grant funding awarded through the Center for Disease Control’s REACH program to provide close the gap in health disparities among priority populations in Savannah and Chatham County. https://forsythfarmersmarket.com/farmtruck912
MIA MANCE’S TRENDING TOPICS PODCAST
(WXYY G100-1) Keeping Savannah Healthy with Paula Kreissler of REACH and Healthy Savannah
HOW TO EASILY CREATE ATTRACTIVE INSTAGRAM STORIES
(SOCIAL MEDIA EXAMINER) Are you tired of Instagram Stories that all look alike? Wondering how to create visually attractive stories without using third-party tools?
SHOP AROUND FOR BETTER INTEREST RATES
(MONEY.COM) For years, online banks have boasted about their high-interest rates, which they’re able to offer by sidestepping many of the overhead costs associated with brick-and-mortar locations. But those rates are shrinking fast. Experts suggest shopping around to see if a competitor offers a better APY and that means checking into community banks and credit unions for savings accounts offering higher yields.
CHOCOLATE NEEDS A HOME
(COASTAL PET RESCUE) Chocolate is a female American Staffordshire Terrier mix in need of a place to call home. If you are interested in adopting Ms. Chocolate, please visit http://coastalpetrescue.org/adopt/view/2020-d-157-chocolate/.
FIVE PR TRENDS THAT WILL MAKE AN IMPACT IN 2020 AND BEYOND
(FORBES.COM) The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into the best-laid PR plans. While masks and lines outside store entrances will hopefully become relics of the past, some of the trends catching steam this year will continue for years to come, and companies relying on traditional PR tactics will need to sit up and take notice or risk falling behind.
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SAVANNAH COMMUNITY HEADLINES *LIVE* THIS MORNING AT 9AM
(SAVANNAH, GA) Join us for an online, interactive conversation about Savannah each Monday morning at 9:00am on Facebook. Join on this link: https://www.facebook.com/CarriageTradePublicRelations/videos/551917438815949/