Community groups that partner with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Translational Research Institute (TRI) were honored at the TRI’s 3rd Annual Community Partner Celebration on Nov. 13 at The Centre at University Park in Little Rock.
Fourteen of the groups honored are community partners of the Office of Community-based Public Health (OCBPH) at the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health (COPH). A brief description of each organization’s work and the nature of their collaboration with the College are below.
Arkansas Community Health Worker Association (ARCHWA) is a nonprofit, statewide membership organization led and directed by community health workers (CHW). ARCHWA supports CHWs to obtain additional training and continuing education, provide networking opportunities, and facilitates CHWs and CHW programs to collaborate with each other and with community-based, government, and health and educational agencies and institutions. Its members also promote CHWs by increasing awareness of their role in improving health and quality of life while reducing the cost of healthcare. The COPH is a founding partner and key supporting organization along with UAMS Northwest Arkansas Campus, the Arkansas Department of Health, Tri-County Rural Health Network, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, and the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care.
Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind is a statewide, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for children left behind by incarceration or loss of a parent for any reason and to provide mentoring, services and supports for the children, their caregivers, and incarcerated parents, with the goal of strengthening and empowering the family unit. Arkansas Voices has been a longtime partner of the COPH and is helping the College integrate topics related to incarceration and criminal justice into public health curricula. The organization is also supporting the implementation of the UAMS Little Rock Transitions Clinic program, a Primary Care-Public Health Partnership serving former prisoners.
Divine Deliverance, First Baptist Dew Drop Church, New Light MBC, Pleasant View Ministries Church and Regenerated, MB are faith leaders in Jefferson and Phillips counties. They have led the promotion of emotional health in their congregations and wider communities in the REJOICE (Renewed and Empowered for the Journey to Overcome in Christ Everyday) program. REJOICE is an evidence-based depression intervention for African-American adults of faith that includes lay-led small groups that meet on a regular basis and community-wide events. REJOICE is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and includes collaborators from the TRI, the UAMS colleges of Public Health, Nursing and Medicine, the Arkansas Center for Health Disparities, the Arkansas Prevention Research Center, the Mid-Delta Community Consortium, 10,000 Black Men, the Boys Girls and Adults Community Development Center, and Tri-County Rural Health Network.
El Zocalo Immigrant Resource Center serves Central Arkansas’s growing immigrant population by providing culturally appropriate programs and supports such as English and adult education classes, a clothing and food pantry, and referrals to services. El Zocalo has also led and participated in activities that support research by UAMS, such as hosting a community review board focused on the health of Latina women; leading recruiting, and participating in COPH forums in the community; and producing a community resource guide.
House of Benjamin, founded by Mr. Benjamin Hood, significantly impacts the lives of many people in the 12th Street community in Little Rock through its work, which includes rehabbing homes for persons needing long-term care and providing employment and counseling for persons in recovery from addiction. Mr. Hood and his volunteers have hosted COPH faculty, staff and students at events in the 12th Street neighborhood, including for MLK Day of Service events at the Promise Garden Park at 12th and Peyton streets. They have also participated in community forums and planning sessions held by the COPH’s Center for Health Disparities Community Engagement Core to identify residents’ health priorities.
Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Arkansas office has played a leadership role in advocacy for improving health and healthcare disparities among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in Arkansas. The HRC, UAMS and Arkansas Children’s Hospital hosted a conference in 2014 on LGBT health disparities and health care.
Oak Forest United Methodist Church – Reverend Mike Blanchard of Oak Forest United Methodist Church serves on the community advisory board of the Arkansas Center for Health Disparities Community Engagement Core. Rev. Blanchard also serves on the Community Steering Committee of the Central Arkansas Mobile Market, an initiative to increase access to healthy food in Central Little Rock. His church operates Shepherd’s Hope Neighborhood Health Center, a Christian medical, dental and health education ministry that provides these services to uninsured and under-insured Little Rock residents free of charge.
The church and its clinic have been partners of the COPH since 2013. Shepherd’s Hope has hosted COPH AmeriCorps VISTAs and Community Connectors to help with clinic flow and patient follow-up. Rev. Blanchard has been an active supporter of TRI activities including the Sentinel Network Community Health Needs Assessment, for which COPH students administered surveys at the church’s food pantry.
Seeds of Liberation, Inc. is a non-profit organization that works alongside Arkansas’ marginalized communities to create a just, equitable and empowering criminal justice system. The organization has supported the development of the Little Rock Transitions Clinic, a new program based at the UAMS Family Medical Center that addresses former prisoners’ critical medical and social needs. COPH faculty and staff participated in the development of the clinic program.
TransForm Health Arkansas Research Working Group, which is committed to improving the health and health care of Arkansas’ transgender population, was formed by COPH researchers and others at UAMS and in the community. Its purpose is to advise and guide the work of the Transform Health Arkansas project. The project engages with the transgender and gender non-conforming community to learn about their most pressing health and health care issues and what they want researchers to study. The groups meets monthly with the project team to advise on decisions about research promotional materials, survey instruments, outreach, and many other aspects of the project.
The Young Adult Opportunity Center (YAOC) is an anchor in midtown Little Rock and is providing invaluable services to youth and young adults in the area. The COPH has a long-term commitment to this community and is proud to work with the YAOC. The YAOC provides assistance to young people seeking employment or other services. As a positive presence in its community, the YAOC directly impacts social determinants of health and the community’s overall well-being. The College has partnered with the YAOC in various ways, mainly through activities of the Promise Garden Park, which is located on the grounds of the YAOC. COPH faculty, students and staff have volunteered at the park for workdays, MLK Days of Service, and joint initiatives with other organizations that benefit the neighborhood.