NEFL Healthy Start Coalition hires long-time staff member as new Executive Director

Jul 19, 2016  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

Faye Johnson2After 25 years of serving the community and working to make sure every baby has a healthy start, the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition has hired a familiar face to lead the maternal and child health nonprofit into its next phase. The Coalition welcomed long-time staff member Faye Johnson as new Executive Director effective July 1st, 2016.

“For more than two decades Ms. Johnson has demonstrated tireless dedication to Healthy Start’s mission of reducing infant mortality. The Board of Directors is elated Ms. Johnson will lead the Coalition into the future,” Healthy Start’s Chairman of the Board, Dr. Catherine Drew stated.

Since joining the Coalition in 2001, Ms. Johnson has led both the Azalea Project (2002-2012) and Magnolia Project (2012-2016), two special initiatives of the Coalition focused on mitigating the risks of the most vulnerable populations in Northeast Florida to improve health and reduce infant mortality. The Azalea Project works with substance-abusing pregnant and preconception women. The Magnolia Project, a federal Healthy Start initiative, works to improve the health and well-being of women in Jacksonville’s Health Zone 1 before, during and after pregnancy.

She has also served as special projects coordinator, established the local Fetal & Infant Mortality Review Community Action Team, coordinated a Substance Abuse/HIV Prevention Perinatal Planning Committee and implemented the life course model of service delivery into the Coalition’s programs, which focuses on the social determinants of health.

“After 15 years working at the Coalition, I’m looking forward to leading this next chapter of services and community engagement,” Ms. Johnson said. “We have achieved a lot over the past 25 years as an agency, but have more work to do to reduce infant mortality, eliminate disparities and allow our families to thrive.”

Ms. Johnson brings more than 25 years of leadership and management experience to the position. Immediately prior to joining the Coalition, she was a Quality Assurance Manager with Healthy Families Jacksonville. Ms. Johnson has devoted endless hours to underserved populations across the United States. Her job titles spanned from case manager of underserved youth in high schools to program director and manager of social services programs in Florida, Georgia and Texas.

She has been tapped as a national and state speaker on reproductive life planning, group delivery of the life course model and health inequities. She has also served as a task force member of the Jacksonville Blueprint for Prosperity and received past recognition as a National Accreditation Peer Reviewer for Child Abuse and Neglect America/Healthy Families America.

View the official press release here.

First Annual Father’s Day Barbecue

Jun 24, 2016  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

IMG_0684The air began to fill with smoke and the smell of charcoal, oak, cedar and apple wood at 7:30 a.m. on the Saturday before Father’s Day in the parking lot of the Magnolia Project on Pearl Street.,  as seven fathers and their assistants fired up their grills to begin the first annual “Fatherhood Program Barbecue Competition.” The dads are all enrolled into the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative but on June 18th, they were grill masters elite.

While each of them may have different reasons for participating in the program, they all have the same goal: to better their relationship with their children and eradicate infant mortality in Northeast Florida. Fathers play a critical role in the development of their children — the event was held to recognize the impact of dads on positive and healthy infant and child development on Father’s Day weekend.

IMG_0721While the fathers were grilling, their families and other attendees enjoyed the vendors, raffles, games for the kids, bounce house, music and other promotional & educational materials.  As the crowd began to get anxious, six judges sat down at the judging tables.

Grevin Payton, father of one daughter, won the overall highest prize in all three barbecue categories. The judges enjoyed his unique flavors and cooking techniques as the best all around.

First place winners were: Marvin McCoy/Claude Ross Jr; Grevin Payton/John Catlin and Billy Stanley/Blake Beasley. Second place winners were: Charles Lockland and Glen Taylor. Third place winners were: Billy Stanley/Blake Beasley, Marvin McCoy/Claude Ross, Jr and Bernard Charles/Ivan Taylor

The barbecue provided a family-friendly way to celebrate Father’s Day, bring together families and enjoy good food!

National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps members host health fair

  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

IMG_0598The National Health Corps Florida, an AmeriCorps program, hosted a free Self-Care Health Fair on June 18th at the River Region Justina Community Center. The event was developed and implemented by NHC Florida AmeriCorps members as part of their efforts to improve health outcomes in underserved communities.

The health fair served approximately 40 families from the community with important healthcare resources. NHC Florida AmeriCorps members and partner organizations share information about nutrition, tobacco cessation, mental health, art therapy and physical fitness. Free health screenings included blood pressure screenings, blood glucose readings and confidential HIV testing.

IMG_0597Vendors included NHC Florida host sites, Trader Joes, the Jacksonville Public Library, Drug Free Duval, the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, Wal-mart Vision Center and the Florida Poison Information Center — Jacksonville.

Prizes, food and giveaways were provided by Trader Joe’s, Panera Bread, Tijuana Flats, Smoothie King, Einstein Bagels and Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary.

IMG_0596NHC Florida is a service-learning AmeriCorps program administered by the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition. Twenty AmeriCorps members serve an 11-month term at public health-oriented non-profit and government organizations throughout Northeast Florida.

Coalition staff, Healthy Start providers trained on Safe Baby curriculum

Jun 22, 2016  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

Safe Baby2Too many of our babies die of preventable causes. Now local Healthy Start providers and Coalition staff have more tools to address some of those causes — namely shaken baby syndrome and sleep-related deaths — after attending a training on the Safe Baby curriculum.

The curriculum, developed by the Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County, provides professionals who work directly with families information on how to teach parents how to choose a safe caregiver for their children, prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome and promote safe sleep. Sleep-related deaths account for 17 percent of all infant deaths in the region, while many children are injured and die each year of intentional injuries.

Safe Baby1Lisa Colen, Director of Community Outreach & Education with the Hillsborough Coalition, conducted the training. All eight Healthy Start subcontractors had a staff member trained. Four Coalition staff were also trained — the Special Community Projects Liaison, Outreach Specialist/AmeriCorps member and representatives from the Magnolia Project and the Responsible Fatherhood program.

Curriculum training for additional groups in the community will be available this fall. For more information, contact Lisa Read.

The training was funded through grant support from the CJ Foundation for SIDS.

Guest Post: Fatherhood taught me the value of quality time

Jun 21, 2016  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  1 comment

Devin Coleman2Devin Coleman is an author, poet and speaker, and currently serves as the Vice Chair of the NEFL Fatherhood Task Force. In honor of Father’s Day, he shares an important lesson he learned as a dad.

One the most important lessons I’ve learned thus far as a single Father is the importance of spending quality time with my daughter. Often times parents (men in particular) focus on the financial obligations of child rearing such as shelter, electricity, food, and clothing. Provision is a very important aspect of raising a child, especially if we expect them to perform optimal in school as well as the community at large, but it is not the only thing to consider. I have come to realize that we as men have a duty to nurture our children as well.

One afternoon after picking my daughter up from her after school program she asked, “What are we going to do today Daddy?” The innocent and sincere manner in which she proposed the question shifted my entire perspective of Fatherhood. I looked in her eyes and told her, “We are spending quality time together.” Her face lit up with joy and revealed a beautiful smile and almost instantaneously she said, “That means no phone daddy!”

Devin Coleman1From those two questions I learned that in her mind quality time with me was very important and her definition of quality time meant no outside distractions. At that moment “Daddy Daughter” in our household became a reality. It’s during these times I have an opportunity to impart our family’s moral and value system into her. I tell her about her lineage and the importance of legacy. The conversations that we have during our quality time has brought us closer showing her that I value her and her words.  Thereby building the type of trust that will give her the courage to come to her Father and confide in me in the future. My words say I love you and you’re important, but my actions show that I actually mean it.

In conclusion, I would like to think that Fatherhood has caused me to become a better man.  As I’ve come to realize the awesome responsibility it carries.  As men we are the first interaction that our children will have with a male.  It’s vital that we set the stage properly, showing them what a man is and what a man does.  This will potentially serve as a measuring stick by which our sons strive to be and the qualities our daughters seek in a potential mate.