UTICA, N.Y. — Nine nonprofit organizations in the Utica/Rome/North Country region have been chosen from among more than 45 applications to receive Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Spring 2018 Community Health Awards. Each award recipient will receive up to $4,000 of the $25,000 allocated by the company to help fund health and wellness programs in its 14-county Utica/Rome/North Country region.
Through a competitive application process, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Awards support programs that have clear goals to improve the health or health care of a specific population.
Awards focus on improving the health status of the community, reducing the incidence of specific diseases, promoting health education and enhancing overall wellness and are made based on scope of need, goals of the program, number of people expected to benefit from the program and positive impact on the community’s health status.
The nine nonprofit organizations that were selected to receive Community Health Awards are:
- Stevens-Swan Humane Society (Utica) – Award funds will help offset the cost of rabies vaccines for all animals adopted from the shelter as well as animals vaccinated at 14 public rabies clinics held between April and November 2018.
- Town of Plattsburgh (Plattsburgh) – Funding will go toward the cost of converting an existing unused tennis court in Town of Plattsburgh at the Wallace Hill Recreation Park into a Futsal Court. This will provide additional social and fitness opportunities for area youth.
- The Farmers’ Museum (Cooperstown) – Funding will support “Garden Hacks,” a weekly (Sundays from April to October) gardening mentorship program focusing on health and wellness that is offered to museum visitors throughout the season. The Farmers’ Museum master gardener will present tips to the public on how to plan, plant, maintain, and harvest an organic garden, highlighting the value of healthy food choices and a healthy environment. Special emphasis will be placed on the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables for growing young bodies, and the health benefits of utilizing natural fertilizers as opposed to harmful chemicals.
- GardenShare (Canton) – Funds will be used to provide fresh produce from local farmers for healthy lunches for children participating in Canton Recreation’s six-week Adventures in Learning summer program. GardenShare will also coordinate with school backpack programs that offer weekend food, and introduce The Passport for Kids Program, which provides interactive activities and $10 worth of tokens to redeem at farmers markets during the summer months.
- Clinton Chamber of Commerce (Clinton) – Award funding will support the Power of the Produce program, which helps children learn about and try new fruits and vegetables at the Clinton Farmers’ Market. They will complete and sign a “Passport to Health” at the market. As they attend market sessions, their Passport to Health card is marked for their attendance and they receive $2 in wooden tokens to spend on fresh fruit and vegetables during each market visit. The Clinton Farmers Market runs for 18 weeks in 2018, from Thursday, June 7 until Thursday, October 4.
- Substance Abuse Prevention Team of Essex County, Inc. (Ticonderoga) – Funds will support the Girls Run 4 Fun program in Essex County that provides 10 or more after-school group sessions which address social, emotional and mental topics relevant to upper elementary school-age girls, and will also include some physical activity with a joint culminating team-building event for the seven schools involved. The discussions/lessons in the program all address different aspects of their physical, emotional and/or spiritual health.
- Joint Council of Economic Opportunity for Clinton and Franklin Counties (Malone) – Funds will help JCEO convert a mini bus, owned by JCEO, to a mobile farmer’s market and expand their reach area to include 10 more community-based stops. Many of the residents in these communities do not have access to groceries stores or regular access to fresh fruit and vegetables and/or do not have regular access to reliable transportation. Partnering with other agencies like Eat Well NY, Cornell Cooperative Extension and local businesses will provide opportunity for food prep demonstrations and recipes to give residents more food options.
- Springbrook NY Inc. (Oneonta) – Award funding will assist Springbrook in providing specialized yoga instruction on a weekly schedule at both of their Oneonta and Norwich Day Habilitation program locations for adults with significant developmental disabilities. At least 75 people will be involved in yoga classes on a consistent basis (individuals with developmental disabilities and Springbrook’s direct support staff.) This will include approximately 55 people at Springbrook’s Oneonta Day Habilitation location, and 20 at the Norwich Day Hab. Springbrook supports over 1,000 individuals and families across Central New York.
- Moriah Central School (Port Henry) – Funding will support the school’s BackPack Program, which provides, on Fridays, backpacks to students in need with enough food for the weekend to equal the meals they receive at school (two breakfasts, two lunches, two snacks, fruit, vegetables, a loaf of bread and a milk card to purchase a gallon of milk).
“The company’s Community Health Awards demonstrate a corporate commitment to support local organizations that share our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Eve Van de Wal, regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “These awards complement our existing grants and sponsorships with agencies that work to enhance quality of life, including health status, in upstate New York.”
In the more than 80 years that Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has been serving residents of upstate New York, the company has supported hundreds of programs that are aimed at improving the health status of area residents.
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Utica/Rome/North Country region encompasses Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and St. Lawrence counties.