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ACHIP Community Health Worker Profile – Jamie Santana

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 – Jamie Santana.

 

Santana_Jamie1. What made you want to work on the ACHIP program?

For the past five years I have worked as a Community Health Worker with the Department of Community Health at LVHN on an asthma program that assisted families and children ages 1-14 years old. I provided families with education on asthma medication, and assisted in the referral process to local organizations depending on the need.

What made me want to work with ACHIP is because it assists pregnant women and families with children from birth to age 5. I had already been familiar with this population and recognized that there are many young parents in Allentown in need of parenting education and guidance. I thought this would be another opportunity to continue making a difference in family’s lives. There are so many families that are broken and in need of guidance, as well as someone to trust.

 

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

I enjoy listening to people’s life story. Each person has a story to tell about their life and the things they have experienced, both negative and positive. Each story is unique and I have the opportunity to take their story and express to families how some of the struggles they have encountered still have a purpose and could be used for good. These families have real struggles in their day to day life. Most feel like their stuck and can’t move forward. Others have been labelled, rejected and told they have no worth. My job is to help them see past all of that and find their purpose if not for themselves than for their children. Ultimately its empowering families to make changes to have better outcomes and look back to see how far they have come and they worked hard and can say “I did it!”

 

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?

There are so many needs that families have. One is not having enough baby formula. I had to assist a mom who just had her newborn and WIC was not answering their phones for a week. I had a stock in my office that had been given to me before the program began because I knew this would be an issue for families.

 

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ACHIP Community Health Worker Profile – Denisette Irizarry

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 – Denisette Irizarry.

 

Denisette Irizarry1. What made you want to work on the ACHIP program?

I know the importance of, and am passionate about, the health and quality of life for children, young mothers and families. These are exactly the community members that the ACHIP program is designed to help. I love the idea of being able to work with mothers from pregnancy and into the early years of life for their children.

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

I am able to work closely with families and our community partners while serving as a role model for our clients (especially the young mothers). I am happy to serve as an advocate to our families and be involved in helping to identify and address some of the needs of our community. I am also interested in how the work we do with the ACHIP program today will benefit the families and other community-based programs tomorrow.

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?

Our team has succeeded in connecting our families to resources for parenting and prenatal support, rental assistance programs, furniture, early education programs and child care services. With the help of the nurse navigator and counselors on our team, we’ve provided referrals to services that address physical and mental health as well any child development concerns.

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Building Bridges submission deadline is next week!

The deadline is almost here! Submit your photos to the Building Bridges Project by Tuesday 8/15. Show them YOUR Allentown!

http://www.buildingbridgesproject.org

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Deadline for Building Bridges photo entries is almost here

Are you a downtown Allentown resident?
Then share pictures of live in the Queen City with the Building Bridges Project and show us what life is like for you and your family.
The deadline is fast approaching!
http://www.buildingbridgesproject.org

 

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Community Conversations encourage downtown Allentown residents to share their input on health care issues

This year the Downtown Allentown Community Development Initiative in partnership with Allentown Promise Neighborhood will hold a series of events called Community Conversations. The goal of these events is to encourage APN residents to share their feedback and input on a variety of topics that affect their quality of life.

The first Community Conversation, entitled “Working Your Way Through Health Care,” will take place on Thursday, March 31 from 5 – 6:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Allentown Hotel on 7th and Hamilton Streets. The program will include tips on how residents can navigate the health care system, and also provide advice on paying their medical bills.

St. Luke’s University Hospital Network, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Sacred Heart Hospital, Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley, Allentown Health Bureau and other community organizations will have information tables at the event as well and can answer questions. Complimentary refreshments will also be provided, and childcare will also be provided for free during the event.

The APN staff is assisting DACDI in coordinating the event, structuring its format, and collecting the questions for the Q&A portion of the program. The nonprofit organization is doing outreach in downtown Allentown to invite residents to the free event.

 

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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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Meet our Resident Liaison, Yamiris

Yamiris - Resident Liaison1) How long have you lived in the APN? What do you like most about living here?

I’ve been here all my life. I was born in Allentown. What I like most about living here is that the community is good.

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

I like what Allentown Promise Neighborhood does and I think it will help a lot in the community.

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’m a good leader and  am very social with people and kids.

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

Becoming a better person.

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

I think it’s a great place for people to come if they need help. And I think it’s a great thing for the community.

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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.

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PROMISE NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY TO HOLD FOUR PUBLIC MEETINGS IN EASTON

PrintA successful non-profit community organization based in downtown Allentown is planning to bring its program to Easton and wants the public’s input on where it should be located within the city. To get that feedback it will be holding a series of four public meetings later this month.

The regional Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley established its first neighborhood in the Old Allentown Historic District in the city’s downtown seven years ago. The success of Allentown Promise Neighborhood has lead the organization to expand its model to the valley’s other two cities in the coming years.

Easton Promise Neighborhood Manager Ammar Sharif has compiled data about residents in the city’s four neighborhoods. This data will be presented to the public at four public Town Hall meetings, one in each neighborhood, to include the citizens of Easton in the discussion that will help determine the best place to create an Easton Promise Neighborhood.

Meetings will take place at:

Easton Area Community Center
901 Washington Street
September 16 from 7-8:30 pm

YMCA of Easton, Phillipsburg and Vicinity
1225 W. Lafayette St.
September 22 from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Cheston Elementary School
723 Coal Street
September 24 from 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Nurture Nature Center
516 Northampton Street
September 27 from 11 am – 12:30 pm

Light food and beverages will be provided to attendees, and giveaway items will also be handed out.

Inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone, the U.S. Department of Education’s federal Promise Neighborhoods program is an initiative designed to break the cycle of generational poverty by wrapping children in a pipeline of health, social, and educational supports from birth through college. It utilizes efforts to mobilize residents, community partners, educational institutions, and business leaders to ensure the success of children from birth to career so they will thrive, succeed in school and become vital members in the community.

About Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley
Founded in 2007, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley unites residents and leaders from various sectors to ensure the success of children from birth through career. Promise Neighborhoods, a subsidiary of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, accomplishes its work through place-based, collective impact efforts, like Allentown Promise Neighborhood. Its office is located at 347 N. 8th Street in Downtown Allentown. For more information, visit www.PromiseNeighborhoodsLV.org.