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Community Stories

Working to Reduce the Recidivism of Homelessness in Michigan

In 2008, South Oakland Shelter (SOS) initiated a redesign of its supportive services for people struggling with homelessness and began working with previous shelter clients to prevent repeated episodes. They provided departing clients with an array of services and support after exiting into the community or while receiving housing assistance. This program substantially increased services available to former clients, including ongoing individualized case management; education and life skills-based classes; mentoring; and support groups.

Using Environmental Technology to Support Wetland Villages – Kenya, Africa

Lake Victoria Wetland Villages experience multiple problems. These problems include many water-borne diseases as locals depend on rivers, lakes, springs and wells with water that is contaminated with human fecal matter and other contaminants for household consumption. Additionally, wetlands are experiencing degradation, and biodiversity is decreasing through anthropogenic activities such as reclamation for farming and settlement, burning, and over-harvesting of wetlands vegetation. These practices lead to the impairment of crucial ecosystem goods and services.

UYP: Promoting the Quality of Young People living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda

Uganda Youth Positives (UYP) is a group of mobilized and coordinated young HIV-positives with a mission to promote the quality of life for young people living with HIV/AIDS and to reduce the HIV prevalence rate among young people. The UYP drama team conveys messages of HIV protection, anti-stigma, and discrimination in schools and communities. UYP also trains peer educators in schools who pass on messages of protection and anti-stigma to their fellow peers. This has yielded a great result of behavioral change amongst the young people.

Providing Produce for Low-Income Populations

America’s dependence on processed food has produced an array of detrimental effects—heart disease, diabetes, and obesity chief among them. These interrelated problems are particularly pronounced in low-income minority populations, and especially so for women and children. The District of Colombia exemplifies this crisis. Feeding America reports that 29% of DC’s children—over 30,000 in all—live in poverty. Our food insecurity and unemployment rates both exceed the national average. For far too many people, poor health and poverty constitute a vicious cycle of dependency.

A Low-Income Entrepreneurship Program in Philadelphia

The Empowerment Group’s Entrepreneurship Program trains low-income entrepreneurs in the skills they need to create sustainable businesses in the city of Philadelphia. The group helps educate individuals on the benefits of community businesses: self-employment, additional jobs for low-income individuals, and increased commercial activity. Their program attempts to address poverty issues in the struggling communities of Philadelphia.

Providing HIV/AIDS Education in Lusaka – Zambia, Africa

The community had a problem with high death rates of parents due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These deaths were attributed to lack of HIV/AIDS prevention literacy, condoms, sensitization, and treatment and led to a growing number of orphans and vulnerable children without parental support who, as a result, often became involved in harmful practices.

Community Gardens in Helena, Montana

The Growing Community Project (GCP) works with stakeholders to build community gardens in order to increase food security in Helena, Montana, as well as to strengthen their neighborhoods. GCP aims to work with low-income populations, giving them gardening space and teaching them gardening skills so that they may take control of the quality of food they and their families consume. Currently, GCP manages five gardens and over 60 gardeners in Helena. Almost half of the gardeners stated in 2009 that their community garden plot allowed them to save $15.00/week on food.

Malaria Prevention in the West Nile Region

Malaria is the number-one, fatal, endemic disease in the West Nile region—with the Arua district, Ajia, Vurra sub-counties, in particular. Malaria contributes to 62% of outpatient care for children under five (U5s) and pregnant women in health facilities, 35% of inpatient admissions, and 4% of deaths in children under five/pregnant women. Thirty-five percent of pregnant women were inflicted with IPT2 (Fancider) during antenatal care (ANC, also known as prenatal care) during their pregnancies.

Making Wellness a Priority at the University of Maryland

In January of 2008, the University of Maryland Campus Wellness Coalition formed to address the health and wellness of the College Park campus community. Student wellness affects academic success, but it seems that often wellness is seen as an individual concern, rather than a campus priority.

An Original Play Educates Communities About Mental Illness

Breakthrough Club, in Wichita, Kansas, planned a unique approach to educating communities about mental illness through a reader’s theatre presentation. The content was developed by a local playwright who used the life stories of Breakthrough Club members as his inspiration. The event was held at the Century II Mary Jane Teall Theatre, one of the largest in Wichita, Kansas. Professional actors played the roles of persons with mental illness, it was directed by a local, well-known director, and the event was videotaped for future distribution.