Hammonton Health Coalition
PPA is a founding member of the Hammonton Health Coalition (HHC), which is dedicated to improving the health of Hammonton’s people by making Hammonton a more inclusive community for all residents.
By Kathia RamirezAugust 5, 2022
Hammonton is a Pinelands town that relies on Pinelands protections for the health of its water supply, farming economy, and recreation-based tourism. As members of the coalition, PPA brings our understanding of the local environment, the recreation capacity of Pinelands Adventures, fundraising experience, and our enthusiasm for connecting more people to the natural landscape around them.
In addition to PPA, Coalition members include Allies in Caring (AIC), Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas (CATA), ARH Associates, Atlantic Division of Public Health, Excellence in Education, Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Hammonton, Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers, The Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton University, and the Town of Hammonton.
The mission of the Hammonton Health Coalition is to “foster collaborations among members of our community and public and private agencies to help all residents improve their physical and psychological health by implementing creative programs that draw on local wisdom, respect residents’ needs and aspirations, and take advantage of Hammonton’s unique economic, cultural and natural landscapes.” The HHC is an informal partnership of individuals, organizations, and businesses. The HHC acts as a bridge to link communities not currently working together but that face the same challenges. PPA has been a member and close partner of the HHC since its beginning.
The Coalition’s early focus has been on making Hammonton more inclusive for its growing Latino population through dialogue, events, and programs, and sharing information and services. More recently the Coalition has expanded its efforts to promote inclusivity and public participation among other parts of the community, such as families living in poverty, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The Coalition works to address ACE, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences, that correlate strongly with the health and well-being of residents.
Our journey together has come a long way given that before we began doing the “actual work” we first needed to build a foundation of trust to get some of our work done. Some of the conversations that come up can be painful and uncomfortable and this work will keep evolving as we move forward.
HHC received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – NJ Health Initiatives Upstream Acceleration Program specifically to engage with the Latino community. This permitted us to create a program well known as Connectors. The Connectors program is composed of bilingual community members who have an interest in helping the community and making sure they are aware of resources and opportunities to engage in town efforts. Additionally, being able to keep an inventory of some of the talents and gifts in the community that are not often recognized or acknowledged.
One of the main accomplishments of this program has been promoting town-wide events in Spanish. Connectors are the heart of the Hammonton Health Coalition as they are the bridge to connect the underrepresented communities, share their stories, and close the gap. Various projects have emerged as an outcome of the Connectors Program; a Latino Leadership Scholarship which provides seed money to individuals embarking on their educational career since most are first-generation college students; Hispanic Heritage Month which allows us to promote and build consciousness on culture, history, and traditions; a resource fair which brings together organizations and agencies providing services and resources to the community; a women’s group which creates a safe space for women to talk about some of the issues affecting them but also learn from each other; and lastly, a youth podcast that will create a platform for youth to engage and talk about topics of their interest, while developing and enhancing their communication skills.
PPA is also providing staff support for the Coalition, and that person is me! In May, I was hired as Policy Advocate for the Pinelands Preservation Alliance and I have two roles. I assist in tracking development activities in the Pinelands and I staff the Hammonton Health Coalition. It was critical that HHC had a paid staff member to keep the Coalition organized and on track. Being employed by both organizations helps better link our cross-pollinated work and will lead to new collaborations and projects. At PPA, we strive to make the Pinelands more accessible to ALL regardless of their ethnicity, language barriers, and abilities. We aim to be more inclusive and help create a sense of belonging so that we can build a bigger movement, more consciousness on issues affecting the Pinelands, and be ready to act in protecting their home.