Multnomah County named two long-time Portland nonprofits, an innovative Native American collaborative and a Health Department social worker as the 2014 Public Health Heroes.
The Board of County Commissioners awarded the four citations Tuesday at a celebration in the board room.
Chair Marissa Madrigal said the winners were chosen from 60 nominees “who can all be called public health champions. Each one deserves a thank you for the time and commitment they’ve shown in helping to improve the health of our community.”
The Public Health Partner Award: Outside In
In 2013, Outside In teamed with the Multnomah County Health Department to help pass a new state law that increases community access to naloxone. Naloxone is a medication that reverses opiate overdose.
Gov. John Kitzhaber signed the bill authorizing such access into law early on July 9, 2013. By afternoon, Outside In was training and distributing naloxone to its syringe exchange clients. After only seven months, Outside In had trained more than 629 staff and community members who have reported reversing 239 overdoses. The number of opiate overdose deaths decreased by almost 25 percent after Outside In began distributing naloxone, compared to the same time period in the year before.
Since starting its program, Outside In has received requests from several other community-based organizations to train their staff, including agencies providing substance abuse treatment and emergency housing.
Outside In also has staff working to enroll their clients in Cover Oregon’s health insurance exchange and provide HIV and Hepatitis C testing. The organization helped provide sterile syringes to more than 4,000 individuals in 2013.
“Since 1968, Outside In has helped homeless youth and other marginalized people move toward improved health and self-sufficiency,’’ said Commissioner Liesl Wendt. “Outside In has continually revised their services to meet changing community needs.”
Dr. Kathy Oliver Accepting the Public Health Partner Award on behalf of Outside In was Executive Director, Dr. Kathy Oliver.
The Kate Jeans- Gail Award for Young Heroes: Leisure Hour Jr. Golf Program
The Kate Jeans- Gail Award for Young Heroes is presented to a youth or youth organization which inspires young people to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Leisure Hour Jr. Golf Program is a Portland nonprofit established to bring the passion of golf to youth who could not afford to play. What started with just six children has grown to more than 150 children.
The history of the program is this: In 1928, Vernon Gaskins arrived in Portland and began working for the Columbia Edgewater Country Club. He loved golf, but because racism and segregation could not play at Portland golf courses. His dream of creating a place for minorities to enjoy the game of golf, encourage youth participation and become a voice for African-Americans in the greater Portland community came to fruition in 1947 when he formed the Leisure Hour Golf Program. That led, in 1978, to the Leisure Hour Jr. Golf Program.
Since its creation, the Leisure Hour Jr. Golf Program has offered golf lessons, tournament play, transportation and academic support to youth in Portland and Vancouver. The program fosters physical activity through the game of golf. With more than 40 parents and mentor volunteers, the program provides another key component; giving back to the community.
Each year, the program members work on community fundraisers, march in the Good in the Neighborhood Parade and adopt families in need during the winter holidays.
“Rain or shine, Leisure Hour Jr. Golfers are ready to tee it up,’’ said Commissioner Loretta Smith. The president of the organization, Debra Ingram, acccepted the Kate Jeans-Gail Award for Young Heroes on behalf of the Leisure Hour Jr. Golf Program.
The Social and Equity Justice Award: the Future Generations Collaborative
The Future Generations Collaborative (FGC) is an innovative partnership among American Indian and Alaska Native community members, community-based organizations, and public health agencies to increase healthy pregnancies and healthy births, and strengthen families in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
Since the project began in 2011, FGC has recruited and trained 18 community members including Elders and people called “Natural Helpers”. The Elders and Natural Helpers recruit, facilitate and solicit community input and lead the work. To date, these leaders have organized eight community forums and built robust community partnerships with seven Native-serving organizations and government agencies. They have participated in extensive outreach to the Native community through pow wows and cultural gatherings. This past January, the collaborative hosted the first regional Gathering of Native Americans, which drew nearly 200 people to northeast Portland. The Gathering drew upon the wisdom of Native people to promote healing for all community members and establish the basis for a community action plan to reduce substance-exposed pregnancies.
“This work takes a long-term commitment and a lot of heart and humility,’’ said Commissioner Judy Shiprack. With continued attention toward building healthy partnerships, developing Native leadership and telling the stories of Native people, the Future Generations Collaborative expects to see lasting improvements in the health of Multnomah County’s Native families.
The Multnomah County Employee Award: Alison Goldstein
Each year, an award is also presented to a Multnomah County employee who demonstrates outstanding public service.
Alison Goldstein is the lead social worker for the Tri-County 911 Service Coordination Program. The program focuses on Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington
County residents who use emergency medical services frequently. Goldstein and her team work to connect clients to the right health care in the right place. Through their hard work, diligence and perseverance, Goldstein and her team have helped clients and decreased the use of 911 calls by 50 percent over a six-month period.
Commissioner Diane McKeel quoted one of Goldstein’s co-workers, saying“She brings a passionate and ever-caring perspective to her work. Alison also goes above and beyond, never missing a deadline and always taking her work to a level above what is required.’’
Goldstein has been a practicing social worker for more than twenty years, specializing in care with/for the LGBTQI, injection drug-using, HIV/HCV, and justice-involved communities in both South Florida and Multnomah County. She has provided care and support to incarcerated residents and has spent time on the streets providing clean needles and offering case management support to individuals dealing with intravenous injection.
Joanne Fuller, interim Health Department Director, said that the whole idea behind Public Health Heroes is to celebrate the countless people who work daily to make their life better and help the Health Departmentachieveits mission.
“Your work,’’ she told the winners, “is an inspiring example to all of us in our continuing mission for healthy people in healthy communities.’’