The Verdant Health Commission issued four awards to community members and organizations at the Verdant Healthier Community Conference earlier this week in Lynnwood.
The awards are:
- Outstanding Community Advocate Award: Giselle Zapata-Garcia of Latinos Promoting Good Health
- Innovative Program Award: “Issues that Matter” program run by Sno-Isle Libraries and accepted by Sno-Isle Executive Director Jonalyn Woolf-Ivory
- Service to Our Community Award: State Health Insurance Benefits Advisor (SHIBA) volunteers
- Community Collaboration Award: Hero’s Café Planning Committee
Verdant Superintendent Dr. Robin Fenn presented the awards at the March 12 conference, which drew about 250 people, and shared that those honored exemplify care and compassion within our community. While each award and the work taking place is different, what is common throughout is the giving nature of those recognized for their support of the health of the community in South Snohomish County, Fenn said.
“It is very important that we as a community take the time to acknowledge those who are stepping up and working together to help address the myriad challenges that we are facing together,” Fenn said. “It takes a lot of heart and grit to take on the problems of the world yet these award recipients do so in ways that have meaningful impact for so many. It is truly my privilege to be able to recognize the amazing work that they all do.”
Outstanding Community Advocate Award
Giselle Zapata-Garcia is a tireless advocate for equity and access to health services in our community, Fenn said. The Snohomish County-resident serves on boards throughout the Puget Sound region including: co-chair of Latinos Promoting Good Health, co-chair of the King County Promotes Network, Latino Community Fund board member, Fred Hutch Health Disparities Research Center Advisory Board member, Latino Education Training Institute (LETI) board member, and more.
This award was created to recognize individuals who work in support of others to address a health need in our community. The honorees over the years have worked to highlight positive change. Zapata-Garcia demonstrated this with her humble response to the recognition, in which she said, “…those of us who engage with and advocate for our communities never expect any type of recognition as we do this because it comes from the heart and passion to serve others.”
Innovative Program Award
“Issues that Matter,” a series of community conversations coordinated by Sno-Isle Libraries, has tackled some of the most difficult issues that face our community, Fenn said. This program has brought to light topics and connected residents with local experts on issues including: mental health, homelessness, teen suicide, and more.
This award is given to organizations that bring new and creative ideas to health programming, trying something different in an effort to impact health in ways they have not attempted before.
Sno-Isle recognizes the needs facing residents in this area and has stepped forward to take an active role in ensuring important conversations are happening. Libraries are vibrant community hubs that are not just about books but about sharing information, and Verdant is pleased to honor their work with the Innovative Program Award, Fenn said.
Service to Our Community Award
The State Health Insurance Benefits Advisor (SHIBA) volunteers in Snohomish County are the winner of the service award, which goes to individuals or organizations who go above and beyond in service to others, working to support the health and well-being of other people and/or organizations in our community.
SHIBA volunteers, represented by Laura Ballard, Carolyn Bodeen, Marcia Broude, Judy Edgmand, and Leslie Waliser, invest a significant amount of time learning the complexities of Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans so that they can assist individuals in the community enroll with free, unbiased, and confidential help. There are currently 32 SHIBA volunteers in Snohomish County, and each brings with them compassion, patience, and varying professional experiences to the services they provide our residents. We have a complex and rapidly changing healthcare system, and it can be confusing at best to figure out the details, Fenn said. The dedicated SHIBA volunteers provide an immeasurable community service, she said.
Community Collaboration Award
The Hero’s Café Planning Committee members are the recipients of the collaboration award, given to organizations that partner with others to be responsive to our community’s health needs. Winners of this award recognize that more can be accomplished by working with others, creating unique partnerships that make their work more effective and efficient.
The Hero’s Café launched in early 2017 by dedicated local veterans who wanted to create an environment for vets of all ages to gather monthly and focus on positive outreach, interaction, and welfare within the community. Veterans throughout our region have traditionally been active in the community through a variety of service organizations such as the VFW, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans. While these groups provide enormous benefits to veterans through building camaraderie, Fenn said, the groups have not been closely connected with each other, and the Hero’s Café model has brought all these groups together to help ensure veterans are not falling through the cracks.