Cooley Dickinson Announces Recipients of 2009 Health Grants

NORTHAMPTON — Cooley Dickinson Hospital has awarded $50,000 to 13 community projects whose mission is to improve community health.

As part of CDH’s $50 million building expansion that opened in 2007, the hospital is mandated by the state Department of Public Health’s Determination of Need (DON) program to support community health projects.

The Healthy Communities Committee of the Cooley Dickinson board of trustees used a grant-application process to redistribute funds back to the communities it serves.

“Grant amounts of up to $5,000 were awarded,” said Jennifer Reynolds, who chairs the committee.

“The committee received a strong pool of worthy applicants, and we had to make some difficult decisions. Priority was given to community agencies that are located Hampshire and Franklin counties, Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s service areas, that demonstrated a likelihood to improve health and/or improve access to health services,” added Reynolds.

The Healthy Communities Committee coordinated the process of soliciting applications and awarding the grants. The committee, comprised primarily of community members with hospital staff representation, reviewed 54 grant applications that were submitted by Pioneer Valley residents who represented diverse organizations.

According to the state’s Web site, the DON process “encourages equitable geographic and socioeconomic access to health care services.” The 2009 grants are the third and final year of the DON program. Over the three years, the Healthy Communities Committee has awarded $150,000. The North Building and Kittredge Surgery Center at Cooley Dickinson opened in 2007.

The grants are targeted for the following organizations. To contact the agencies listed, call Jeff Harness, director of the Western Mass. Center for Healthy Communities and mini-grant project liaison, at (413) 540-0600, ext. 101.

• Berkshire Children and Families, Guiding Good Choices parent training workshops ($5,000). Grant funding will be used to provide workshops on Guiding Good Choices, a prevention program that teaches parents skills to become more effective. This program boasts proven results in reducing youth substance abuse.

• Center for New Americans, outreach to underserved immigrant, refugee, and migrant workers in the Pioneer Valley ($4,800). The grant will fund a student-outreach program that will provide health care and health insurance information to underserved immigrant, refugee, and migrant communities in the Pioneer Valley.

• Fertile Ground, school gardens and food projects at the schools of the Hampshire Regional district ($5,000). This initiative builds community and inspires awareness about healthy food and human relationships through school gardens and other projects. Fertile Ground is a Hilltown-based program that works with schools and food projects in the Pioneer Valley. The funds granted will allow them to continue empowering young people to make informed decisions about healthy foods and a healthy lifestyle.

• Hampshire Heights, cleanup day ($1,344). The grant will fund a community cleanup day in Hampshire Heights. In addition to sprucing up the area, the goal of the project is to promote a greater sense of community. Casa Latina has agreed to accept the funds on behalf of the project. Funds will be used for materials, staff support, rental equipment, and food and refreshments for volunteers.

• MotherWoman Inc., support for mothers with postpartum depression ($5,000). This grant will support MotherWoman, which provides postpartum support groups and drop-in services that are designed to serve mothers at risk for and/or experiencing postpartum depression. All mothers who need services are welcome, and the project reaches out to women of all races and income categories.

• New England HipHop Foundation, using music to spread positive health messages to youth ($5,000). The Amherst-based New England HipHop Foundation will embed positive health messages into a hip-hop format. Grants funds will be used to purchase supplies to distribute the music locally. The project is working with local youth programs and coalitions.

• New Hingham Elementary School, school and community gardening project in Chesterfield ($1,500). The grant will fund an organic garden at New Hingham Elementary School. The project will teach children lifelong skills and passion for growing nutritious food and involve parents and the community. The garden will also supply fresh vegetables to the school’s cafeteria.

• Northampton Council on Aging & Senior Center, transportation to medical appointments for Northampton senior citizens ($5,000). The grant will help create the Medical Appointment Transport-ation Program. Volunteers will use their own vehicles to transport seniors to medical appointments. The grant funds will reimburse volunteers for the gas and mileage expenses.

• ServiceNet Inc., garden and meals on wheels for mental-health clients ($1,500). The funds will be used for the Northeast Outreach Garden Share and Meals on Wheels project. The garden share program will educate participants on growing their own food and provide access to fresh produce to program participants who otherwise could not afford them. Meals on Wheels will help provide healthy meals to high-health-risk program participants.

• ServiceNet Inc., people pursuing recovery from mental health challenges through their passion for music and the spoken word ($5,000). Funding will be used to support a project giving people in recovery access to a professional recording studio where they can record their music and stories. The grant will allow for the purchase of professional-grade digital recording equipment, and will pay for CD production at Life Builders, a consumer-run business at ServiceNet. The project has created the name Lucky Dime Studio, and ServiceNet has agreed to accept the funds on behalf of the project. An additional benefit is that artists will have the opportunity to earn money by selling their professional-quality CDs.

• Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, increasing access to fitness equipment and wellness information ($5,000). Funds will be used to staff the cardio and strength-training rooms after school, as well as expand the current wellness collection in the school library. This will enhance the Wellness Initiative started in 2007.

• Tapestry Mobile Health Services, mobile health services ($4,000). Funding will support a fully staffed van that will provide health education, HIV testing, hepatitis screenings and vaccinations, MassHealth referral, and other services.

• The United Arc, positive parenting program ($1,856). This grant will fund the Positive Parenting Program, which promotes healthy eating among parents with cognitive limitations and their children. This project will focus on community gardens, educational classes, and access to food through the Arc’s food pantry.