Episode 23 of the More than Health Care: A Community Health Conversation podcast is now available on the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ website and on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. Every other week, a new episode uncovers keys to collaboration and holistic health in pursuit of improved health outcomes and lower costs for all.

As community development officer for John Boner Neighborhood Centers in Indianapolis, Melissa Benton oversees many programs. However, when she witnessed people leaving the community as their careers improved, or they became more financially stable, she knew more needed to be done for the whole neighborhood to stabilize and prosper.

This led to the establishment of a community development department that engages people in a quality of life plan to guide improvements. “We have quarterly summits where neighbors can come and give input on that plan and what they want to see happen,” Benton said. “Neighbors giving input is the most important thing; it's where they live every day. And so, for them to be able to have a stake in the ownership of what happens is really important to us.”

With nearly 450 people in attendance at the initial neighborhood quality of life plan event, it was evident that there was substantial interest from all community segments, not just homeowners. And that enthusiasm and commitment have been sustained. Benton emphasizes that since the program began, many individuals have come and gone, but overall, active community involvement has remained consistent. Now, it is the community members who are pushing the organization to address new quality of life issues beyond the traditional housing and employment concerns. This exemplifies growth and neighborhood stabilization.

Benton points out that working with a large group of individuals and myriad personalities can be frustrating at times. However, this inclusive, well-organized approach to community planning is proving successful. “We all want to see a vibrant, thriving, welcoming neighborhood. We might have different ideas about how to get there, but in the end, we all have that same end goal,” Benton explains. And with the opportunity for community members to be included in planning to express their dedication and commitment, more recognition, new partnerships, and progress are on the horizon.

Learn about proven practices for engaging your community at the Impacting Poverty through People and Place Convening and Study Tour, March 18-20 in Houston at BakerRipley.

Listen as Benton talks about the evolution that occurred within their services when John Boehner Neighborhood Centers went into the community to hear its needs in Episode 23 of the  More than Health Care Podcast  available through the Alliance website or subscribe on the Apple Podcast, Google Play, or Spotify apps

About the Podcast

While many are realizing that collaboration and holistic approaches are the solution, the health care and human services sectors are struggling to find the right formula to realize the full potential. The More than Health Care podcast is designed to help organizations overcome barriers to partnerships resulting from cultural differences, financial pressures, and rules and regulations. 

In addition to showcasing inspiring examples of integration from across the country, featured experts will expose the myths, misconceptions, and shortcomings of efforts to address the social determinants of health through collaboration across sectors. 

This podcast is presented by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Ascentria Care Alliance, and Beech Acres Parenting Center. Cohosts Jill Huynh, vice president of new business development at Beech Acres, and Tim Johnstone, executive vice president of community services at Ascentria, work at the intersection of health and human services, bringing the expertise and practical experience to uncover key takeaways for improving health care and human services integration. 

Subscribe on  Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify

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