Western. Mass. Center for Healthy Communities Recognized

HOLYOKE — In late November, the Western Mass. Center for Healthy Communities (WMCHC), a program of Cooley Dickinson Hospital, received the Public Service Award from the Mass. Public Health Assoc.

The award is given for an organization’s commitment to public health and social equality in Western Mass. The WMCHC received the award for its work in creating 10 substance-abuse-prevention coalitions. Once created, the WMCHC has helped the coalitions use data and available research to guide their decision making.

“WMCHC is a tremendous asset to the region,” said A.J. Juarez, community organizer for the Mass. Public Health Assoc. “Their work has made Holyoke and many other communities in the region healthier places to live and work, while supporting statewide efforts for a healthier Massachusetts.”

Of the award, WMCHC executive director Jeff Harness said, “on behalf of the staff of WMCHC, we are grateful for this recognition by MPHA, the statewide leader on nutrition issues and a tireless advocate for public health.”

Separate from its work with the city of Holyoke, the WMCHC helped the Holyoke Food and Fitness project develop a long-term plan to increase healthy eating and physical activity of its members.