Healthier Lake Worth Celebrates First Year of Community Collaboration Around Behavioral Health

Healthier Lake Worth celebrated its one year anniversary on December 1, 2018 at the Church By The Glades to recognize accomplishments and share its vision to improve the behavioral health of  its residents.

John Burns, Harry Wolin, Reggie Durandisse, Linda Roman, Sarah Malega, Manny Mendez, Jenny McBride

Healthier Together, funded by Palm Health Foundation, is a resident-led approach designed to solve Palm Beach County’s most complex health issues, neighborhood by neighborhood.  Local leaders and residents in the Lake Worth community chose to tackle behavioral health as the critical health issue in their area and receive support of $200,000 per year for five years from Palm Health Foundation to create lasting change.

Efforts to create sustainable change are focused on social and economic factors that impact health, including poverty, safety, racism, violence and access to resources.  Patrick McNamara, president and CEO of Palm Health Foundation shared, “These stressors negatively affect mental health, whereas creating safe shared spaces and cleaner, more secure neighborhoods can support positive mental health.”

Members of Healthier Lake Worth have chosen to address behavioral health in non-traditional ways.  Their mission reflects their ambition: To improve the cleanliness, environment, and safety of Lake Worth’s neighborhood and to promote healthy behaviors that impact the overall health and well-being of its residents.

During the last year, Healthier Lake Worth has delivered.  The organization has coordinated neighborhood cleanups; created pop-up parties in local parks to educate residents on healthy lifestyles; identified needs for youth resources; connected with the Lake Worth PBSO leadership to build stronger relationships and share information on safety concerns; and built partnerships with other community groups to help support and advance their work.

Healthier Lake Worth steering committee members from all sectors of the community were present at the anniversary celebration and shared their rewarding experiences.  Enterainment was provided by children from the South Grade Elementry Student Band and For the Children’s Youth Empowerment Center. A highlight of the event was a check presentation made by co-chairs John Burns and Linda Roman to the Whispering Palms Neighborhood Association. The funds will be used to pay for crime watch signage to increase safety in that neighborhood.

“Years ago I could not imagine I would be able to contribute to an effort such as this,” said Manny Mendez, Community Outreach Coordinator for All About Recovery and member of the Healthier Lake Worth Steering Committee.  “I was, at one point and time, hopeless, on the streets of Lake Worth.  Today I am blessed and honored to be doing this important work with folks of so many diverse backgrounds.  I am so proud of what we have accomplished in a short period of time.”

John Burns remarked, “I kind of fell into Healthier Lake Worth. One day I stopped by out of curiosity, and to enjoy a good meal, not planning to make it a regular thing.  I was pleasantly surprised and saw potential in the group. Now I am a co-chair of the steering committee.”

Healthier Lake Worth has engaged over 45 community partners from private, public and nonprofit sectors, including Community Partners, BRIDGES at Lake Worth, Lake Worth CRA, City of Lake Worth, Adopt-A Family, Salem Haitian Lutheran Church, Lake Worth Library, Guatemala Mayan Center, Caridad Center, Chrysalis Health, 211, Cross Ministries, Health Council Southeast Florida, Compass, Friends of Lake Worth Parks and Rec, Starbucks Lake Worth, The Book Cellar and many more.

“Healthier Lake Worth has had an impressive start in its first year,” enthuses Linda Roman.  “The community is embracing our efforts and we are confident we will see positive changes impacting the behavioral health of our residents for many years to come.”