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Creating Greater Destinies Reunion

On September 28, the REACH team celebrated its third year by hosting a reunion of the first two cohorts of Community Health Ambassadors, who trained in 2015 and 2016 to help them as they build health equity in their local communities. This was the first time Ambassadors from both cohorts have had the opportunity to come together as a group with the express purpose of connecting and building relationships. Community Health Engagement Coordinator Erika Hood noted "Ambassadors from both cohorts have come together before for Creating Greater Destinies meetings, but those were smaller meetings where just a handful of ambassadors were able to connect. Often in our monthly meetings, we had heavy agendas and didn't have time to connect and develop relationships with others in the group. This event allowed us to bring both groups together to share a space and a meal, to engage in fun team building activities/games, to share with one another skills and accomplishments." 

The reunion was held in the cozy loft space at Neighborhood Connections, a space familiar to many of the Ambassadors as they have received grants from that organization. In addition to Ambassadors, the reunion also included shared use policy holders and others with a connection to the PRCHN's REACH work. The reunion was facilitated by Ambassador Delores Collins (Ms. Dee) and few others, allowing Hood and fellow Community Health Engagement Coordinator Briana McIntosh to take a step back. "Our goal is for Ms. Dee and a few other leaders to be the point people who will help convene and continue to advocate for resident integration in public health networks," she says, adding that the reunion was "a great way to wrap up Year Three of REACH and enter the final year with some momentum."

The REACH team has scheduled six "Community Health Ambassador Engagement Nights" over the next year, each focused on a topic that the residents have shown interest in (e.g., grant writing, local funding, leadership/capacity building, communication strategies). In addition, these engagement nights will provide a platform for ambassadors to network, share their skills and expertise and become more embedded into HIP-Cuyahoga to help elevate the messages and work focused on health equity across Cuyahoga County. The ambassadors plan to use the REACH shared use sites to host services/programming led by the Ambassadors, such as Xi-gong, Zumba, or healthy cooking classes, doula services, and trauma counseling. This will enrich the current shared use work and create sustainable programming for the community.

One of the most important aspects of the reunion was, in Ms. Hood's words, "The event created a safe space to open up to one another and share ideas, dreams, and even struggles. The event ended with all attendees linking together in an unbroken circle, sharing just one positive word with the group that summed up the night (love, faith, hope, blessings, community, leadership, home, destiny prosperity, directly, jubilee, empowerment, blessings, to name a few). The circle represented the connectedness and shared experiences of all those in the room. It was a glimpse into what the future has in store for this group of leaders."
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