(WYTV) – This week’s Hometown Hero is an organization seeking to better the health of Mahoning Valley residents.
The Healthy Community Partnership Mahoning Valley is a division of the Community Foundation Mahoning Valley.
HCP Mahoning Valley Director Sarah Lowry says the partnership she heads has been around for a little over three years.
“What we are working to do is to improve the health, well-being and health equity of residents in Mahoning and Trumbull counties,” Lowry said.
Their footprint is in Trumbull and Mahoning counties. Over the years, you’ve seen several projects they’ve been involved in during our newscasts.
They have three main areas of focus: addressing food insecurity and access to healthier foods; increasing access to parks and green spaces; and addressing transportation shortcomings, such as sidewalks and public transit access.
“We want to see people be healthier, but we know that if we have healthier people, we’ll have a healthier economy. We’ll have a healthier environment, and that’s what makes a healthier community,” Lowry said.
So, how does it work? Community partnerships.
The organization is made up of several foundations, businesses, residents and community organizations. Lowry considers herself a “dot connector.”
“So, that’s really our role, to be that dot connector, facilitator between the various stages of a project. So, from helping to build the idea, moving it into planning and then ultimately implementation,” she said.
With input from community members, they advocate for and help lay the groundwork — dot the I’s and cross the T’s — getting plans in front of decision-makers.
“So, we aren’t just building something because we think it’s a good idea, but we are building something, creating something, advocating for something that people who are impacted actually want, so that they have an ability to create, to drive whatever happens,” Lowry said.
Some projects they’ve advocated include:
- Expanding WRTA routes
- Improving and adding sidewalks
- Helping lay groundwork for new parks such as the Lincoln Knolls Community Park in Youngstown and a community blueberry patch on Youngstown’s south side
- Working with local farmers and vendors to expand healthy food options in convenience stores
Lowry says impacts from these initiatives on community health will take time, but they’re just getting started, and she is very optimistic.
“This is one of those jobs that I’m trying to work myself out of a job. If I’m successful, I don’t need to be here. I’m hopeful that, one day, that is true,” Lowry said.
If you would like to get involved or have an idea to improve the health of your community, you can reach out to them by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their website and Facebook page.