During this holiday season of giving and blessings, I am reflecting on how blessed I am. I am fortunate to have good health, great family, friends, and colleagues. The biggest blessing of all is that I am working for the Institute for Community Health (ICH). ICH is a nonprofit consulting organization that provides participatory evaluation, applied research, and assessment and planning to help the helpers and, ultimately, assist local communities to create sustainable health. Since the inception of ICH, it has contributed to communities, creating engagement and a chain of giving, which leads to a gratefulness for both the giver and the recipient alike. The work ICH does leads to improved health, happier living, and better communities.
According to one of our founding fathers, Dr. David Bor, “ICH was created in response to the growing AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s: David Bor, Marshall Forstein and Paul Epstein started the Cambridge AIDS Task Force. The task force considered health care to be the fourth priority after housing, work place anti-discrimination policies, and education about contagion — a surprise to many health practitioners. That model of community engagement formed the basis for the ‘Cambridge-Harvard Health of the City Program (HoC)’, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts. The co-directors of HoC included David Bor, representing the public hospital (CHA), Ron Arky, representing the private hospital (Mt. Auburn), and Frank Duehay, representing the city of Cambridge. The organization spawned the Men of Color Task Force, Healthy Children’s Task force, and a “health information unit” whose purpose was to collect data to inform the public about local health and health needs. When funding ran out, the Cambridge Health Alliance, Mt. Auburn, and Mass General Hospital agreed to co-sponsor a new organization, The Institute for Community Health, based upon the same principles.”
The cosponsoring of ICH started this chain of partnership, involvement, caring, and giving to the communities. My colleagues take this caring and giving to their partner organizations, who in turn pass it on to the communities they serve. ICH assists our partners, for example, to help educate new parents on how to care for their children, and to improve the lives and health of folks that have health problems such as HIV, mental health, and/or substance use disorder. ICH also assists our partners to prevent violence such as gang violence, domestic violence, and other relationship violence. And these are just a few of the areas in which we assist. Overall, ICH creates better communities, especially for the underserved. Best of all, ICH helps these foundations and programs work with the resources they do have and use them to the fullest.
With great care, passion, and devotion, my colleagues assist ICH’s partners with creating safe and healthy environments. Safe healthy environments then lead to greater prosperity and health equity, and in turn it gets passed on and given to others, who are able to make better lives for themselves. I have always wished to work in an organization like this one and have been blessed.
Happy New Year to all!