Monica and English recently visited Waterville, Maine as part of “Healthy Places for Healthy People,” a new Environmental Protection Agency program. Waterville is one of ten communities chosen to participate and is receiving planning technical assistance which includes developing an action plan for improving the health of the community through economic development.
Sound familiar? It should! The Write Choice Network has been a leader in assisting communities around the country to use their local federally qualified health centers as an economic driver to improve all aspects of health for their communities. Monica made front page news in Waterville discussing all of the successes of one of our clients, Williamson Health and Wellness Center in West Virginia. She presented them as an example of how a community started an FQHC and created jobs. This small injection of revitalization and energy, which started with 5 employees, was a catalyst. Soon more jobs were created, a local food program followed as did workforce development, a food hub, and in turn more jobs. It’s a simple concept that only requires people interested in improving the health of their community and the willingness to act.
Waterville was chosen by the EPA to participate in “Healthy Places for Healthy People” partly because of their success in creating access to affordable, healthy food. The need for food equity and food access has been a struggle in Waterville because of the continuing poverty and lack of funding for programs to support these efforts. The local businesses and organizations came together and took action.
They were excited to show off all of their amazing achievements and eager to learn and get started on the next phases of their action plan. Monica and English were extremely impressed by what they saw during a tour of the community which included, among other things, the local health center, the food bank, the teen center, City Hall, local public schools and colleges. Every community should strive for the level of cooperation and collaboration in Waterville, ME.
The Write Choice Network will continue to tour other communities chosen by the EPA to participate in the “Healthy Places for Healthy People” program including Nogales, AZ next week. For more information on this program and the other communities chosen to participate, as well as a great video featuring Williamson Health and Wellness Center click on the link below!