Healthcare Foundation of Wilson awards nearly $700,000 in grants

Healthcare Foundation of Wilson awards nearly $700,000 in grants

The Healthcare Foundation of Wilson awarded nearly $700,000 in grants to local organizations Tuesday. That money will help fund various community projects that focus on solutions to some of Wilson’s greatest health challenges.

Twelve approved grants were announced Tuesday morning at Barton College’s Hardy Alumni Center.

“These responsive grants are a reflection of our ongoing commitment to invest in the improvement of the health and wellness of the greater Wilson community,” said Denise O’Hara, the foundation’s executive director. “Since 2016, we have awarded more than $5 million in grants to support local health and wellness initiatives with strong potential for positive outcomes, and we remain committed to providing critical funding for projects that seek solutions and positive outcomes for our community’s top health concerns.”

More than 100 officials, community and organizational leaders attended the annual event that also highlighted ongoing programs that are making a difference in many Wilson County residents’ lives.

“This foundation and the people in this room are just another example of what makes Wilson stand out and rise above as an amazing community,” said Chris Hill, foundation board chairman. “Everyone here has been called to serve.”

Hill, who is also a Wilson County commissioner, said the nonprofit’s greatest responsibility is to better the Wilson community, help its neighbors and improve the quality of life for all.

“Healthcare Foundation of Wilson is committed to doing our part and we’ve achieved some remarkable outcomes,” he added. “These organizations are working hard to make sure we are making a difference in our community.”

The foundation prioritizes grant funding for projects that focus on sustainable solutions with measurable outcomes to address four of the community’s greatest health concerns — adolescent pregnancy, alcohol and substance abuse, obesity and sexually transmitted diseases.

Lane Mills, superintendent of Wilson County Schools, also spoke to the crowd of leaders about how programs the school system has implemented by way of the Healthcare Foundation of Wilson has helped many students.

The 2019 grant recipients include:

First Missionary Baptist Church of Lucama

• $5,000 for the initial startup and launch of a health and wellness initiative. The program will offer educational and instructional guidance to assist children, adolescents and seniors in the church, community and sister churches without the county. The program focus will include health education, nutrition, food preparation, exercise and fitness.

Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina

• $21,850 to support the Kids Cafe program, which provides free meals to children in a safe environment where they can receive help with homework or mentoring from community volunteers. The food bank will provide an after-school pantry at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Wilson.

Love A Sea Turtle

• $15,000 to support a fitness and nutrition camp that engages youth in nutrition education and water-focused activities with experiential and hands-on learning. The camp will be available to all youth at The SPOT. From swim skills to snorkeling to scuba diving and kayaking, youth will also participate in cycling activities, nutrition scavenger hikes, cooking classes and a baseline fitness test.

Opportunities Industrialization Center of Wilson

• $59,205 to conduct support services and free, voluntary testing for high HIV/STD incidence within Wilson County. Screenings and disease intervention specialists will be available at regular intervals at locations identified by the OIC, including the Wilson County Detention Center, disease intervention specialist hot spots, Wilson Housing Authority properties, the OIC of Wilson’s headquarters on Reid Street and at the OIC’s countywide food distributions where free health screenings are also provided.

United Way of Wilson

• $120,000 to work with local partners to expand AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America service year placements to improve the overall health of Wilson residents. The program focuses on improving services provided to the community while also providing leadership opportunities and career paths for the individuals who serve in these roles. VISTA will recruit members to serve in the four Healthcare Foundation of Wilson focus areas. VISTA placements will work collaboratively toward health and wellness initiatives in the community such as implementing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payment at the farmers market, establishing a centralized community health fair to address health needs in impoverished neighborhoods and expanding fitness opportunities for students after school.

Wilson County Department of Social Services

• $150,000 support the expansion of Eat Smart Move More in Wilson County. In collaboration with the Wilson County Health Department and Wilson Family YMCA, Wilson County DSS will focus on healthy eating portions as the next phase of the countywide obesity prevention plan. The program includes continued weight-loss challenges with education from a nutritionist, opportunities for physical activity, health-focused lunch and learn seminars and incentives for participants to meet weight loss goals. The team will partner with after-school programs to reach children and families.

Wilson County Health Department

• $150,000 to continue the school-based health centers at Forest Hills Middle School and Beddingfield High School. The schools will share a mid-level provider between both sites and utilize portable telemedicine equipment.

• $10,000 to support an initiative that provides long-acting reversible contraceptives to uninsured women under 26. Studies have shown the increase in use of long-acting contraceptives is an effective way to prevent pregnancy in young adults.

Wilson County Interfaith Services (Hope Station)

• $67,300 to provide screening tools to identify clients with substance use disorders at Wilson’s shelters for homeless families and single men. When needed, substance use disorder education and connections to appropriate services will be provided, including Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous support groups on site at Hope Station. Regular follow-up and case management with clients who have moved into housing through the rapid re-housing program will also be available. A nutrition education and food preparation program will be developed for shelter families, and both shelter and pantry clients will have access to healthy food choices via the Hope Station pantry. When clients leave the family shelter, they will be rewarded with kitchenware to set up their new kitchens if they have participated appropriately in nutrition and healthy cooking and eating opportunities.

Wilson County Schools

• $7,500 to support the coordination of Motivating Adolescents with Technology to Choose Health. MATCH is a teacher-developed interdisciplinary approach to student wellness that integrates physical activity, nutrition and technology education. The MATCH intervention is embedded within national curriculum standards of the core content, including healthful living, science, math, language arts and social studies, and delivered to seventh grade students using a combined educational-behavioral approach.

Wilson Parks and Recreation

• $15,000 to expand an exercise program for the intellectually disabled and provide outreach to school-age children, teenagers and adults who do not have a place to exercise and are typically unable to participate in school sports. The exercise program will focus on increasing activity for participants by offering four exercise classes each week with a focus on fun activities that increase mobility and will also help in everyday life situations. At the start of the program, participants will weigh in and have the opportunity to have their blood pressure and body mass index checked with follow-up checks every three months. Classes will also include a healthy snack and discussions about healthy food choices.

Wilson Youth United (The SPOT)

• $70,000 to provide daily activities and access to healthy meals during school closings, summer and after school. Access will include transportation to The SPOT for activities and family engagement opportunities. A summer program will include providing meals and activities to local parks in Wilson County. The SPOT will offer a salad bar option during the summer that uses the fresh, on-site grown vegetables to offer healthy food choices. The Triple Play the SPOT Way program will continue to influence childhood obesity through a variety of active programs. The “MOVE” component for girls ages 11-15 will be enhanced by including an evidence-based adolescent pregnancy prevention program.