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Healthy Communities Coalition volunteers: Neighbors helping neighbors

By ThisIsReno

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

Volunteers Gayle Sherman of Silver City and Elmer Wolf of Dayton help additional volunteers sign in during the 2012 MORE or Medical Outreach Response Event that was organized through Healthy Communities Coalition. Photo by Carissa Snedeker.During 2013, Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey is connecting coalition volunteers to new ways to become skilled “community knowledge workers.” The coalition’s hundreds of volunteers are already dedicated to their communities and familiar with many of the informal and formal resources their communities offer, but new resources pop up each year and others disappear.

The Goal and First Steps: This year, the goal is for the volunteers to have up-to-date information so they can connect even more people to assets and solutions to problems.

1)      The Coalition will bring volunteers accurate, timely information through both resource guides like the Community Resource Directory by the Tri-County Early Childhood Advisory Council*, and through training about existing resources with service providers from health care, employment services, education, etc.

2)       In the first step in additional training for the community knowledge workers*, on February 15 Lyon Human Services staff is offering training about local assets like Lyon County Employment Partnership to volunteers from some of the Coalition’s strategy groups including Silver Stage and Dayton Food Pantries and the Silver Stage Co-Op.

3)       In the second step, four Lyon County volunteers were awarded scholarships for in- depth training to become certified “Community Health Workers” this winter (Fernley and Pyramid Lake Tribe area; Yerington; Stagecoach and Silver Springs).  After the training, these new Community Health Workers can perform preventative medical services, act as liaisons between the community and the health system, and help people locate affordable health care options.  Community Health Workers have existed for the last 50 years in the U.S. and have proven to be crucial in expanding basic health care access in rural areas and to leading to improved health outcomes, especially in child health.

4)      Healthy Communities Coalition has received a Nevada Division of Health planning grant and over the next year,  the Coalition will work with partners like Lyon School District, Community Chest,  Rural Mental Health Consortium, Lyon Human Services, Northern Nevada Development Authority, USDA Rural Development and others to evaluate possibilities and needs for a school-based health care center within the Lyon School District.

The result of these on-going training opportunities is that Coalition volunteers will be an even more powerful source of information sharing and referrals in their roles at the Coalition’s food pantries, community task forces, Stand Tall teams, community gardens and farmers markets, etc.

Examples of How Community Knowledge Workers Might Connect People to Resources:

*A family wants to grow their own food, but doesn’t have a yard or other land space and/or has no experience with gardening or farming. The community knowledge worker (CKW) can refer them to community gardens and free gardening workshops in their towns, as well as on-line resources

*An unemployed man is looking everywhere for a job, but is meeting obstacles because he doesn’t have basic computer skills. The CKW can refer him to one of the local public computer centers in Lyon County that are offering free and/or very low cost classes.

*A teenager has earned good grades in high school and has a dream of going to college, but has no family resources. The CKW can refer the teen, for instance, to resources like rural outreach staff at Western Nevada College and the Gear Up coordinator for Lyon County Schools.

*A senior has a dangerous set of stairs that are in need of repair and that are also not ideal for access. The CKW can refer the senior to the USDA Rural Development home repair program.

 *A young man has valuable job skills, but is in constant pain due to serious dental problems and cannot work. The CKW can refer him to services at HAWC, the Medical Outreach Event Response Event, etc. and help him make the phone calls and navigate through paperwork, etc.

*A parent of three children under the age of 5 is looking for local family activities and emotional support. The CKW can refer him to resources like the Classroom on Wheels preschool (COW Bus), library story time, the Family  Resource Center, Boys and Girls Club preschool services, the school district’s Early Childhood Program, family counseling at Community Chest,  etc.

*A woman has a promising job interview, but has no formal clothing to wear. The CKW can refer the woman to the Episcopal Outreach Centers in Dayton or Silver Springs for appropriate clothing.

Contact:  If you’d like to volunteer with Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey, please call 246-7550. Volunteers with the Coalition contributed more than 24,000 hours of labor to their communities in 2012.

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