Look What's Happening
Summer Newsletter
July 2021
Gardiner Youth Celebrate Pride Month
by Displaying Pride Art
Gardiner Area Thrives (GAT) sponsored two after-school art sessions in partnership with Gardiner Area High School's Tigers Create!

Students and staff created art for the Pride Art Walk for LGBTQ+ Youth and Allies to be displayed in the windows of participating Gardiner area businesses during the month of June.
Students reflected on the event with a variety of insights:

"Thank you for the experience and to Gardiner Area Thrives for sponsoring this."

"Art builds community and strength."

"Art isn't about skill. It is about inspiration and determination to create something beautiful."

"There are no rules to love and art."

"And one day they will remember us."

"Even in the darkest nights, love will prevail."
Show Your Pride All Summer Long
Celebrate with an amazing Rainbow Salad - perfect for Pride Month or any beautiful summer day! SNAP-Ed Coordinator Rachael Reynolds combines fresh seasonal favorites to cover all of the food groups. The colors signify that this salad contains the vitamins our bodies need to feel healthy!
You can click here to see this recipe along with many other healthy recipes created by SNAP-Educators at HCCA: https://youtu.be/2MDPuIF5M4I.
HCCA Chosen for Public Health Learning Pilot Project
HCCA is one of 26 teams to pilot test the Public Health Learning Network’s (PHLN) Learning Agenda Toolkit!

Teams represent governmental public health agencies, higher education, and other health-related organizations from around the country who are striving to use deeper levels of learning to address community challenges.

HCCA staff Nan Bell, Alexis Guy, and Renee Page will lead the team in partnership with Board Member Sara Grant. The toolkit is designed to assess complex systems challenges and develop learning opportunities to address these challenges, prioritizing collaboration with community partners throughout the process. You can find more information about the toolkit here. As a result of its participation, HCCA will be awarded a stipend and receive access to networking opportunities with PHLN and the other teams. 
Our intent with this opportunity is to build on HCCA's internal equity conversations. We want to apply an equity lens in a more explicit, interwoven way to our organization and our work within the community. However, we acknowledge that there is more comprehensive training and learning that needs to happen first among ourselves. We hope to lean on the groundwork laid by the community assessment and outline of community-identified goals in the Community Health Improvement Plan from 2020, as well as our existing roots within the community.

We look forward to working with eight of our current partners in developing equity-centered learning, and to expanding this learning to include the voices and contributions of more of our partners as it progresses. 
Nutrition and Physical Activity
HCCA Let's Go! Mini Grant Champion provides opportunity for students to get physical activity every day with Brain Break Bags
HCCA awarded eight mini grants to Let's Go! registered sites in southern Kennebec County to do a project that support one or more of the 5-2-1-0 strategies.
Brenda Weis, Wellness Teacher at Cony MS/HS, chose to integrate physical activity into her health curriculum. Let's Go! research indicates students who are physically active tend to have better grades, school attendance, and classroom behavior. Brenda's grant provides physical brain break equipment for her students to use in her 75-minute Health Education classes. Her goal is to provide resistance bands (upper-body strength), resistance loops (lower body strength), yoga mats (flexibility), bean bag veggies (eye-hand coordination/MyPlate veggie group), along with charts that provide examples of resistance exercises. Since in-person classes were smaller this year, students had the opportunity to spread out more easily in the classroom to perform the exercises. They spent about 10 minutes "working out" during class time. Students enjoyed the use of their brain break equipment, remaining engage4d and on-task, and Brenda role modeled self care by changing her traditional chair to a stability ball to work on her core strenght to combat increased sitting due to remote learning. Kudos to Brenda for being creative during the pandemic and incorporating Let's Go! strategies into her classroom.
Learn more about the Let's Go! in southern Kennebec County - Contact: Nan Bell at 207-588-5341 or n.bell@hccame.org
Maine Local Food Network Updates
Maine Farm to School Network (MFSN) at HCCA hosted a series of presentations over the past several months about local foods work in tribal communities, tribal sovereignty advocacy, and how MFSN can support Wabanaki-led farm to school and tribal food sovereignty initiatives. If you are interested in learning more about this project with MFSN and Wabanaki contact s.cesario@hccame.org to view the recorded sessions listed below and get information about the up coming workshop.
  • January - Wabanaki REACH introductory workshop with 50 network members
  • March - Wabanaki Studies curriculum integration presentation with Mihku Paul of Gedakina and Fiona Hopper of Portland Public Schools, with 45 network members
  • April - Wabanaki Public Health food & nutrition presentation with Andrea Sockabasin with 20 MFSN Leadership Council members
  • Coming soon - Wabanaki REACH Deeper Dive workshops + Integrating Wabanaki learning into garden and nutrition curriculum
Maine Farm to Institution Recruiting New Leadership
Maine Farm to Institution Network (MEFTI) at HCCA hosted a convening of 40 network members and leadership on Maine Food Convergence next steps to expand Maine local foods purchasing, such as expanding processing infrastructure and building relationships between buyers and farmers. 
MEFTI is now accepting applications to join the network’s Leadership Team to work on these identified action areas. Learn more and apply by July 30!
Tobacco Prevention
HCCA Partners With Local Veterans,
Hart Consulting, and Other Coalitions
More than 100,000 veterans live in Maine, and many still smoke. In the past year, we found a lot of free resources for when they're ready to stop.

HCCA partnered with Somerset Public Health (SPH), Portland Public Health, and Hart Consulting to connect veterans with those resources.

In a project ending this June, HCCA joined the two other public health coalitions and Hart Consulting to understand what Maine veterans have for resources, and what we can do to connect them to those resources and support -- as well as what the veterans want.

We will soon share a Public Service Announcement, and watch for our posters and rack cards in veteran organizations and other community locations. The posters and rack cards, created with veteran input thanks to Gardiner Elks Lodge, display resources for veterans who use VA benefits and also for veterans who don't. HCCA and SPH will distribute the posters around Kennebec and Somerset Counties this summer.

To learn more about this project, contact Elizabeth Deprey, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator, at e.deprey@hccame.org.
Contact Elizabeth Deprey if you want a poster in your space to help local veterans find resources to stop smoking!
HCCA Congratulates Our Local Gold Star
Standards of Excellence Winners
Kerish Benttinen Counseling Services and the VA Maine Healthcare System at Togus received recognition from the Maine Center for Tobacco Independence Gold Star Standards of Excellence Program! HCCA partnered with these organizations to create their award-winning tobacco-free policies. Congratulations to these two organizations for their commitment to connecting tobacco users to quitting resources and protecting staff, visitors, and clients from secondhand smoke exposure. Learn more at breatheeasymaine.org.
Black Lives / Black Lungs
Check out the 15-minute documentary on YouTube
Nearly 9 in 10 African American smokers use menthol cigarettes. That's no coincidence.
Black Lives / Black Lungs is a short film investigating the tobacco industry’s successful infiltration into the black community. Created by filmmaker and progressive communications strategist, Lincoln Mondy. As states across the country, including Maine, consider banning flavors, this film explains why this is a critical equity issue.
Substance Abuse Prevention
Combatting the Opioid Crisis
HCCA is partnering with Maine General on their Harm Reduction program to combat the opioid crisis.

If you are or someone you know is struggling with addiction, scan the QR code or visit haveitonhand.com to learn more about obtaining a free Naloxone/Narcan kit.

You can learn how to deliver naloxone and identify signs of opioid overdose.
Marijuana is legal, but do you know the laws?
For more information on Marijuana Laws go to: Good to Know Maine
2021 HCCA Virtual Annual Meeting
Be the Seed: Cultivating Community Health
HCCA staff and board recently hosted a successful convening of 40 community stakeholders to learn about HCCA’s work, honor community leaders with awards, and engage in breakout discussions. 

HCCA staff recognized the outstanding work of outgoing board members Dr. Samantha Deming-Berr and Dr. Barbara Moss and welcomed new board members Dr. Salam Al-Omaishi, Patricia Clark, Sara Grant, and Colin Webb.
HCCA community partners also received recognition, including:
  • Chrissy Michaud – In appreciation of her determination to promote free school lunch during the pandemic for all children in RSU 2 throughout the school years of 2020-2021. 
  • Julie Olson – For providing essential time, resources, and effort to support the initiation and ongoing work of the Capital Area Gleaners. 

  • Augusta Boys and Girls Club – For promoting youth leadership and resiliency through collaboration on youth engagement projects, implementing the alternative to suspension program INDEPTH for tobacco, and creating a comprehensive tobacco policy.
  • Owen Hines – For promoting youth mental health through involvement in the MEAA Youth Policy Board, extraordinary leadership, and positive influence amongst peers. 
  • Town of Readfield – For creating a comprehensive tobacco-free policy across all Town of Readfield properties to set a positive example for local youth that tobacco use is not a normal adult activity.
  • Rebecca Nirza – For promoting youth mental health through involvement in the MEAA Youth Policy Board and Augusta Boys and Girls Club Youth Policy Board.

Thank you to our community members who joined us to honor these awardees and board members, brainstorm about fundraising, and participate in equity-focused discussions.
Sara Grant
Director of the AmeriCorps Senior Companion Program at the University of
Maine Center on Aging
Colin Webb
Overdose Prevention Specialist in Harm Reduction at MaineGeneral Health’s Prevention and Healthy Living Center
Patricia Clark
Director of Early Childhood Studies and professor at the University of Maine at Augusta
Dr. Salam Al-Omaishi
Post Graduate Year-1 Family Medicine Resident at Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency 
Learn about all of our board members at www.hccame.org
HCCA Staff Return to Office
HCCA is proud to announce that staff are now vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and therefore returning to work in-person together. As we navigate this transition, HCCA is not yet hosting outside events or inviting community partners into the office.
Here are community resources for finding a vaccination site near you: Vaccination Sites | Covid-19 (maine.gov)
Browntail Moth Infestation
We've certainly seen more than our share of these little pests this year! Check out DHHS guidance on treating rashes and preventing infestation next year:
HCCA Board Members
Our Community Health Champions
Salam Al-Omaishi
Jodi Beck
Benjamin Brown
Patrick Cheek
Patricia Clark
Cathleen Dunlap
Deborah Emery
Sara Grant
Patricia Hart
Patricia Hopkins
Ranae L'Italien
Lisa Miller
Sarah Miller
Merry St. Pierre
Ashley Tetreault
Colin Webb
Courtney Yeager
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