“We are slightly different from some of the organizations in that we are supposed to innovate change in the community,” said Joyce Clem, council member. “We do not just come together to network. We have an overall purpose.”
Problems in the community were tossed out for discussion and written down by Clem in a recent Health Council session. A list of issues ranging from mental health to obesity and drugs were considered. Members decided the issues troubling the community are interrelated.
“We can have a variety of things we can focus on,” Clem said. “We do not have to choose just one. We can address the top three issues in the community.”
More than three issues were found. They include:
- Children having to raise themselves due to parental lack of involvement, both voluntarily and not. Long work hours, drugs, ill mental health, and lack of information all play their part, members said.
- A need for a dependable and adequate bus system in Cleveland. The council said the current system is good, but does not reach all the areas clients need to go.
- Housing is expensive and difficult for some members of the community to attain.
- Unhealthy eating habits due to children parenting themselves, lack of money, or lack of nutritional understanding.
Representatives from various organizations in the Bradley County area make up the health council membership. These individuals decided promoting an overall healthy lifestyle could nip the community’s issues in the bud. Or as one member said, “Instead of putting out fires, let’s put out the fuel at the beginning.”
A part of putting out the fuel includes providing community members with support. Emily McComb, United Way of Bradley County community action network liaison, attended the most recent meeting. Clem and various members stated it was important to have an up-to-date list of organizations and their programs. McComb explained how organizations could place their information in CAN.
“First we need to figure out which programs are available. Then we need to move toward creating better collaborations. Finally, we need to make this information accessible to the community,” McComb said. “We have worked on building an online resource guide. I am only one person, so I would love if you wanted to go online and add your information. I will check it over, approve it, and place it on the site.”
McComb said services can be looked up according to category on CAN. When programs are added on the website, categories are selected for what they address. An example would be one program falling under ‘family’ and ‘behavioral problems.’ Additional items can be checked, as well.
The council hopes advising the community to make healthy choices will lead to healthy lives. A new focus allows the council to move forward with program ideas and initiatives in the community. Those not in attendance at the latest meeting are encouraged to join on Jan. 22 at SkyRidge.