WE’RE HERE TO CELEBRATE!

In a more modern and auspicious twist on Jane Austen’s famous literary introduction- it was a truth universally acknowledged that a public health organization, in possession of an extraordinary amount of achievements, must be in want of a celebration! This is exactly what we did on Monday May 14th, 2018- we celebrated. This year’s annual meeting theme was “Bringing Public Health into Focus”- a theme that shines a spotlight on all the marvelous work done in our communities.

But you see- it is not only our organization’s compelling efforts to provide our communities with bountiful crops, tobacco-free parks, cooking classes, and youth groups (a.k.a purveyors of positive change) that gave us something to celebrate. It was also the relationships and partnerships we have meticulously and joyfully cultivated throughout our communities over the past year.

After all, even Batman needed Alfred and Robin.

Nan Bell (Let’s Go! Coordinator) right and Ashley Tetreault (new HCCA Board Member) left.

FOOD MAKES US HAPPY…SO DO OUR PROGRAMS

And like any proper celebration, there were light, healthy refreshments provided- dark chocolate coated strawberries, colorful fruits served in a hollowed-out watermelon, a tempting vegetable tray (is there anything more satisfying than the tantalizing light crunch of a chilled carrot?), buffalo seasoned cauliflower (yes, this is a thing and it was DELICIOUS!), bruschetta, and other mouth-watering delights on this smorgasbord of refreshments. While attendees sipped iced beverages, Joanne Joy- HCCA’s Director-and Fred White- the chair of HCCA’s Board of Director’s- commenced the annual meeting and introductions raced around the room with surprising velocity.

Fred White (HCCA Board Chair)
Joanne Joy (HCCA Executive Director)

At the conclusion of the pertinent and necessary pieces of the meeting (yes, though we considered this event a celebration of sorts, there were other matters to attend to, such as asking others tobecome official members of your local superhero- I mean, non-profit public health- agency. In addition, we were both introduced to new board members (stay tuned for that information) and attendees were invited to circulate the room to various pop-ups displaying HCCA’s versatile and engaging programs. Holly Kiidli- our very own substance use coordinator- had participants engage in the “Family Dinner Project”- a game that encourages conversation at the dinner table in an effort to develop family resiliency.

Holly Kiidli (Substance Misues Prevention Coordinator) demonstrates the Family Dinner Project

Joanne Joy and Christine Canty Brooks (our lead prevention coordinator who also works on other special projects), awed participants with their work on their Reaching More Moms program (a connecting pregnant/parenting women with tobacco treatment resources). Christine also informed the actively engaged crowd on preventing the insidious threat of lead poisoning *cue ominous music*.

Christine Canty Brooks (Special Projects Coordinator) talking about Reaching More Moms and Lead Poisoning Prevention

April Hughes and Kendra Finnegan performed a lively demonstration on programs used to engage youth- SideKicks, Youth Policy Board, and Youth Taking Action. While they leapt over pieces of paper to show creative ways to solve problems and tossed a tobacco facts hot potato around, the pop-up next to them led by Nan Bell, Rachael Reynolds, and Courtney Roderick engaged onlookers with nutrition. Nan shocked the crowd with the alarming amounts of sugar found in popular beverages; Courtney and Rachael performed a food demo. I imagine the latter presentation left on-lookers (myself included) with a burning desire to indulge in some more buffalo-seasoned cauliflower and a serious aversion to soda products (that’s right- I’m looking at you, liquid-brown-fizzy-sugar-syrup-of-deception-also-known-as-Coke).

Kendra Finnegan (Youth Empowerment Coordinator) talking about The Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN)
Courtney Roderick (right) (SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator)and Rachael Reynolds (left) (SNAP-Ed Coordinator) perform a food demo
Rethink Your Drink display

A SNAPSHOT OF COMMUNITY SUPERHEROES

After everyone had visited the four pop-ups, the phenomenal food had been sampled, and the collection of FoodCorps photos had been viewed, participants gathered back in the main room. It was at this time that the raffle winners were announced. Participants waited with sanguine anticipation as ticket numbers were rattled off and the baskets with gardening, cooking, and outdoor supplies were cheerfully awarded. Finally, Certificates of Appreciation were presented to individuals whose partnerships with HCCA have been invaluable to the success of HCCA’s programs. This year’s awardees were:

  • Mike Gagnon– Growing Healthier Communities Award
  • Steve Knight– Growing Healthier Communities Award
  • Cheryl Daggett– Focusing on a Healthier Environment Award
  • Sue Sidelinger– Focusing on Healthy Families Award
  • Kristine Longstaff– The Kaleidoscope Award

It was truly awe-inspiring to hear about these awardees, how they helped meet the needs of underserved populations in Kennebec County and beyond, and how much they valued collaborative partnerships.

Renee Page (HCCA Assistant Director) presents an award to Steve Knight
April Hughes (Tobacco Prevention Coordinator) presents an award to Cheryl Daggett (Thomas College Health Center Director)

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”- Mattie Stepanek

And a special thank you to Catherine J. Gross Photography for capturing these moments from the annual meeting and immortalizing them in pictures, and the folks at the Cohen Center in Hallowell for providing such delicious food and a beautiful place to celebrate! We appreciate you!