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Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley names Hasshan Batts Director of Operations

Regional nonprofit organization Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley has named Dr. Hasshan Batts as its new Director of Operations.

His responsibilities will include developing and managing cross-sector relationships in the community; planning and launching fundraising events to support the organization; developing and implementing the organization’s programs; community organizing; and overseeing staff engagement with neighborhood residents and resident leadership.

Batts is an Allentown Promise Neighborhood resident, a community leader and committed to contributing to improving the Lehigh Valley through equity, collaboration and compassion. Batts most recently worked with the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley, where he was a member of the management team supervising the community initiative staff and oversaw interns, while providing clinical and operational consultation, training and staff development. He is also a consultant with the Practitioners Research and Scholarship Institute based in Atlanta, and a fellow with The Rider-Pool Foundation’s Collective Impact Fellowship Program.

His professional career history includes working as a Clinical Supervisor for the Youth Services Agency of Pennsylvania in Jim Thorpe; Director of Children’s Services for NHS Human Services in Bethlehem; and an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Lincoln University in Philadelphia.

Batts has a Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences from Gardner-Web University; a Masters in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina A&T University; and a Doctorate in Health Sciences with a Global Health concentration from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

After a decade of growth and development, the Board of Directors of PNLV is conducting a review and evaluation of the nonprofit organization’s community work as it plans for its next phase of growth and development. Its collective impact mission working with partner agencies, community leaders, and neighborhood residents will be reinvigorated as it continues to strengthen its neighborhood-level relationships and focus on community building in all three of its Lehigh Valley neighborhoods. Batts will work the PNLV Board on this reorganization, and will facilitate the hiring of two staff members in the coming months.

About Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley
Initiated in 2007 by United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and developed by community leaders, PNLV was envisioned and planned as a regional organization to address challenges facing families and children in select neighborhoods across the Lehigh Valley. PNLV’s first neighborhood is in the Old Allentown Historic District downtown, and now includes Easton Promise Neighborhood in the city’s West Ward, and two Bethlehem Promise Neighborhoods on Southside and in the Marvine-Pembroke neighborhood. The nonprofit organization unites residents and leaders from various sectors to ensure the success of children from birth through career. Promise Neighborhoods accomplishes its work through place-based, collective impact efforts. www.PromiseNeighborhoodsLV.org.

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ACHIP Community Health Worker Profile – Kelly D Brown

The Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project (ACHIP) was launched in 2016 thanks to a $1.91 million, 30-month grant from The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust. The new program brings together Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Department of Community Health and Women and Children’s services along with the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital, and Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley in a partnership. The program’s primary goal is to improve the health of pregnant women and young children in Center City Allentown through home visits for early intervention. A staff of bilingual community health workers from the neighborhood surrounding the Neighborhood Improvement Zone operates out of PNLV’s Allentown Promise Neighborhood office in downtown Allentown. APN uses its strong relationship with downtown residents to connect parents with young children and pregnant women to the ACHIP services.

The health workers are embedded in the community they serve in order to better cultivate relationships with residents, leading to trust of the local healthcare system, which is a critical component to the program’s success with this at-risk population. Here is a profile on one of them – Kelly D. Brown.

 

Kelly D Brown1. What made you want to work on the ACHIP program?

I love helping people. ACHIP promotes helping pregnant moms and their young children, a population which is near and dear to my heart.

 

2. What interests you most about the work you do in the community through the ACHIP program?

To provide community resources, to empower families to become self-efficient, and to promote a healthy way of living.

 

3. Since the home visitations started, what types of things have you been able to help the new moms and moms-to-be about with when it comes to caring for themselves and/or their child?

I’m able to provide resources such as breast pumps, information on WIC, and make sure they have health insurance. I also can connect the family with childcare services if needed.

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Former APN Resident Liaison Sandra Pisani becomes Community Health Worker with ACHIP

Sandra PisaniWe are proud of former Allentown Promise Neighborhood Resident Liaison Sandra Pisani who has accepted a job working for Lehigh Valley Health Network on the new Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project in the city’s downtown.

The program’s primary goal is to improve the health of pregnant women and young children in Center City Allentown through home visits for early intervention. A staff of bilingual community health workers from the neighborhood surrounding the NIZ are operating out of PNLV’s Allentown Promise Neighborhood (APN) office in downtown Allentown.

APN is using its strong relationship with downtown residents to connect parents with young children and pregnant women to the ACHIP services. The health workers are embedded in the community they serve in order to better cultivate relationships with residents, leading to trust of the local healthcare system, which is a critical component to the program’s success with this at-risk population.

We interviewed Sandra about the work she is doing in the community.


 

What was your past involvement with PNLV/APN?

My past involvement with PNLV/APN was that of an employee. During my employment I assisted with outreach with the community, helping assist with surveying within the Allentown Promise Neighborhood areas and zone. I also had the privilege to promote events, then help assist families within their attended events so that they may not feel excluded during meetings with facilitators, and other influential people throughout the Lehigh Valley. I was given the opportunity from within the organization and through other partnering organizations such as LVHN, Career Link, and Building 21 to further my employment. I was then offered the opportunity to work on connecting members of the community to resources, activities, and resident dinners.

How did working on the APN Resident Survey help connect you to downtown residents and make you more aware of what they need the most help with?

Surveying residents in Allentown helped me to develop empathy, humanity, and care. The survey questions were based on insecurities in areas of education, food, birth control, housing, and recreation. These main areas helped build hope in community members likewise myself, that an attempt to address what was lacking in the neighborhoods surveyed would be addressed and corrected. During my time working with the PNLV/APN staff canvasing available resources, surveying families, and influencing the community was an awakening experience for me. Knowing that I no longer had to feel as though I stood alone when addressing the needs of the community has raised an even greater desire for compassion and commitment within me. I also believe that with my work in the community our goals to provide resources and education will help inspire the same passion in others.

Tell us about your new job as a Community Health Worker with Lehigh Valley Health Network and the Allentown Children’s Health Network and the Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project. What will you be doing in this role and how will it help APN families?

As a Community Health Worker with the Lehigh Valley Health Network this new position will help with building trust amongst families primarily in what I consider to be the heart of Allentown. By working through the Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project the focus will be based on working in the homes on a one-on-one basis with mothers who may have a child or children from ages 0-5 years. Allowing them to access a Behavioral Health Specialist, Nurse Navigators, PNLV/APN, and other organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley, and to help empower them to positively affect turnover rates of succession for prenatal, postpartum, wellness visits. And to also help the uninsured become insured and hopefully create a bridge way to their preferred hospitals.

Why did you decide to apply for this new job? How do you think your work will impact the health of the community?

The impact that working with PNLV/APN had on me was that I felt a void, each time my expected departure date closed in. The position that I was initially hired for would last for about only two months, then each time by grace it became another reoccurring opportunity for employment through partnering organizations, amongst them LVHN. I believe that my decision to move into my new position with LVHN was influenced by my experience working with PNLV/APN. Working among new leaders and staff, and working with LVHN has provided me with the opportunity to see how important education is in my life and the life of others in our community. The ACHIP program and partnership with APN will continue evolving in the future. I am grateful that LVHN has decided to partner with PNLV/APN to help families in our community.

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2nd Annual EPN Resident Block Party in West Ward is Tomorrow!

Easton Promise Neighborhood will host its Second Annual Resident Block Party to bring West Ward neighborhood residents together while connecting them with local public service agencies this Saturday, July 23 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. inside Cottingham Stadium on N. 11th Street next to Paxinosa Elementary School.

The free event for EPN neighborhood residents will feature partner information tables from local non-profit groups, food and beverages, music, games and activities for children, and other entertainment. It will be held rain or shine. Attendees who get their passport stamped at each partner information table will be entered in a drawing for FREE raffle prizes.

For the first time the block party will take place inside Cottingham Stadium on the grassy playing field. We’ll have a large tent where you can hang out to enjoy all of the activities.

There will be water balloons to toss, sprinklers to run through, and of course the dunk tank! Plus we will be handing out cold bottles of water to refresh you! The first 200 people will get free ice cream, and the first 300 will get ice pops!

Event partners are Family Connection of Easton and the Easton Area School District.

Parents can also register their child for school in the Easton Area School District at the event. The following items are needed for registration:

  • Proof of immunizations
  • Four doses of DPT with one dose of tetanus and diphtheria on or after the fourth birthday
  • Three doses of polio
  • Two doses of MMR
  • Three doses of Hepatitis B
  • Two doses of Varicella (chicken pox) or proof of the disease
  • A current vaccine record must be presented at registration in order to register.
  • State birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Completed school district forms
  • Student registration record
  • Home language survey
  • Health information sheet
  • A mortgage or lease agreement in the parent(s) name is mandatory, plus two of the following:
  • Current utility bill, moving permit, car registration or insurance, tax statements, current

credit card statement, check stubs from wages, public assistance, or social security.

  • If a mortgage or lease is not available in the parent(s) name, an affidavit of residency or

support is required. Contact Central Registration at 610-250-2400 extensions 35097 or

35099 for more information.

  • Custody papers or PFA order, if applicable.

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BPN Southside Block Party is next Saturday

We hope you are saving the date for next Saturday’s 7/30 very first Bethlehem Promise Neighborhood (BPN) Block Party.

Join us at Yosko Park from 11 am – 3 p.m. for food, music, games and more!

This is a free event for Southside Bethlehem residents. Fun for the whole family, so bring the kids!

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Congratulations to LVCC!

We’d like to congratulate Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers (LVCC) on its achievement of higher quality ratings for three of its full-service centers.

LVCC on Walnut Street in Allentown, LVCC at Allen High School in Allentown, and LVCC at Stones Crossing in Easton all have been recognized with a STAR 4 designation in Pennsylvania’s Keystone STARS program. With these advancements, all of LVCC’s full-service centers are now STAR 4!

http://www.lvcconline.org

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Get to know the PNLV Staff: Amanda Raudenbush, Allentown Promise Neighborhood Manager

Amanda head shot1. How long have you been with PNLV as the APN manager, and what brought you to this role?

I have been with PNLV as the APN manager since July 2014. I was drawn to this role since it combines two of my passions: urban planning and education. I have over 10 years of experience as an urban planner as well as a number of years as an educator at an urban high school. I recognize that the advancement of cities and residents comes from a multitude of issues being addressed simultaneously. Working at PNLV allows me the opportunity to be involved with many different issues at once and view progress holistically.

2. What is the single most important thing you have learned about the residents of downtown Allentown so far?

The residents of downtown Allentown are a fun bunch! They love to have fun at our Block Party and at our monthly resident dinners. I appreciate the patience they have shown with me when trying to teach me the finer points of a game of dominoes. I will win one day!

3. What do you think the results of last summer’s APN Neighborhood Survey have to teach us about the residents of downtown Allentown and how APN can best help them?

Through our survey, I learned that many of the assumptions that are commonly held regarding our residents are simply not true. I am proud of the work we have done to gain the trust of the residents and that they allow us, through the survey, to act as their voice at the table. I believe that true change happens when those receiving assistance are able to have a voice in what interventions are needed and what they should look like, rather than a top down approach.

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Get to know the PNLV Staff: Ammar Sharif, Easton Promise Neighborhood Manager

Ammar Headshot1. How long have you worked for PNLV and what do you do there?

I’ve worked at PNLV for a year and 12 days, but who’s counting?  I am the Easton Promise Neighborhood Manager, which up until this point has involved creating relationships with potential partners and residents in Easton, and learning all I can about the Easton community.

2. What did you find most interesting about the research you did on Easton and the quality of life of the city’s residents?

I found it all interesting and I loved wading through all of it. I especially enjoyed sharing it and getting the residents’ input, analysis, and reactions.  The most interesting piece of information didn’t come from my presentation, but instead the experience itself.  It was incredible seeing all of these residents of Easton turning out at the town hall meetings because they cared about their city. We saw residents ranging from students to senior citizens and all races who were eager to share their opinions and insights.

3. How do you think establishing an Easton Promise Neighborhood will help residents in the West Ward neighborhood?

I thin hope that establishing the Easton Promise Neighborhood in West Ward will help the neighborhood in whatever ways it most needs. The beauty of our work is it is data driven. We’re not coming in with an already-established agenda. We’re coming in with our survey based around our nine Promises to identify the needs in the community. Then we will work to address them. Identifying the needs, then connecting the service providers with those who need their services will be where we can help residents the most.

4. What’s your favorite part of the work you do for PNLV?

I’ve really enjoyed just about all the work I’ve done so far. My coworkers are great, the people we work with from other organizations are great, and I really believe in what we’re all coming together to accomplish. If I had to pick one thing, I think it would be the contact we have with the residents. I will always fondly remember Earth Day 2014 when I stood on our old office’s doorstep calling to residents to ask if they’d gotten their free potted tulip from PNLV yet.

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Meet Community School Directors Amy and Ari of McKinley Elementary

  1. What sets your Community School apart from the others in the APN?

We are a small but happy school—we are a close-knit family, and we really value the friendships and relationships that are made here at McKinley. Thanks to the help of our wonderful partner, Rodale, we also have a beautiful community garden (and the only community school to have a garden!) This garden is  unique because all the classes really were a fundamental part of building and creating this dream.

  1. What is your school’s #1 goal for the current school year?

We have many goals and things to focus on, but our primary goal would definitely be to improve our families’ access to health services.

  1. How has your Community School’s partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Allentown helped your students?

Boys & Girls Club has always played such a huge role in supporting our school—whether it was through providing Backpack Buddies to 15 of our families, or helping assist families with Christmas gifts during the holidays, we really have benefited from having BGCA as our lead partner. This year, especially, we have come to depend on the Turner Street Girls Club a lot more because so many of our students are now participating in their after school programs, which are offered 5 days a week and are great learning supports for the students.

  1. What type of educational support do students as your school need the most?

I would definitely say that many of our students do need that 1:1 attention; whether it is homework help, or just receiving assistance with improving their reading/writing or math skills, our students need that positive attention and guidance, especially since many of their parents may be working and so they aren’t getting a lot of these very necessary educational supports at home.

  1. What made you want to be a Community School Director in Allentown?

CSD - AmyAmy Jahn de Torrez was working at Christ Lutheran Church and assisting with community outreach, when she soon found herself working with many of the McKinley families. She soon realized that she loved being in a school setting, and so much of her work at CLC was so interconnected with the role of a Community School Director, that moving over to McKinley was such a natural fit. Because of Amy’s relationship with CLC, the partnership of McKinley and CLC has only blossomed every year since. Amy loves to be able to help support and strengthen families through her role as a CSD, and truly has a gift for what she does.

Ari Kantrow—After serving all of last year as an Americorps VISTA member in two of Allentown’s community schools CSD - Aariel(Roosevelt and SMMS), I realized that working in a community school is truly a unique experience, and I really loved being able to develop such strong relationships with the families and support them and help their students succeed. After Amy decided to pursue student teaching for a few months and the opportunity to fill in as a CSD at McKinley arose and I began to meet the incredible staff and families of McKinley, I realized that there was no other place that I would rather be.

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Meet our Resident Liaison, Banessa

Banessa1) How long have you lived in the APN? What do you like most about living here?

I have been an Allentown resident for approximately six years. What I enjoy most about living in Allentown is its suburban communities. Before moving to Allentown, I was a New York resident and it was very noisy and it lacked communal atmosphere. A lot of parts of Allentown still have strong communal energy.

2) What made you want to get more involved in your neighborhood?

I have always wanted to get involved in my neighborhood; I think that I just didn’t have the right resources or know the right information to get started. Now that I work with Allentown Promise Neighborhood I have motivation and more goals to reach and complete, and that is very exciting to me.

3) Why do you feel that you are a good candidate to represent APN? What qualities or abilities do you possess for this role?

I feel that I am a good candidate to represent APN because I am very professional and have leader qualities. I am able to work effectively in a team and get the job done. I have taken a public speaking course and feel that I am a very good speaker. In addition, I am very compassionate and I know that this is critical when speaking to APN residents.

4) What are you most looking forward to in your role as a member of the APN Community Engagement Team?

I am looking forward to seeing change and more community involvement in our residents. Our goal is to bring information and services to our community and I am looking forward to see great impact in doing so.

5) What do you think of APN and what it does for our community?

I think that the work that APN does is phenomenal. I take great pride in working with this team because the services it offers to its residents are very beautiful.