This month’s Non-profit We Heart is “ Building Healthy Communities”. Building Healthy Communities supports almost fifty community based organizations, community residents and system leaders in working together for the improvement of health outcomes for Long Beach residents. Christine Petit is the Executive director and she provided us with some detailed answers to just how much her organization supports us. a huge thank you to Christine, her staff and volunteers for making Long Beach a better place to live.
Interview with Dr. Christine E. Petit, Executive Director
What is Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach’s mission?
In Long Beach, there is a seven-year life expectancy difference depending on the zip code you live in. Low-income people and people of color bear the brunt of this inequality. Our goal is to change that and improve health outcomes for all Long Beach residents. The mission of the Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach collaborative is to reduce health disparities and improve community health overall through systemic changes fueled by adult and youth resident engagement, collaboration and resource sharing, and strategic communication about community needs and solutions.
How long has Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach been in existence?
Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach was established in 2010 as part of a ten-year initiative of The California Endowment (TCE). TCE selected 14 places in California to invest in based on community needs as well as assets in the community that would make change possible.
What programs does Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach implement?
As an organization that helps support a collaborative of nearly 50 community-based organizations, community residents, and systems leaders in working together to improve health outcomes for Long Beach residents, we emphasize the following strategies: community organizing, collaboration and resource sharing, and communications. Our Community Action Plan guides the activities of the collaborative’s numerous workgroups and affliated policy campaigns: http://www.bhclongbeach.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/BHCLB-CAP-3.0_Combined.pdf
What communities do you serve?
Our emphasis is on communities typically marginalized in our city’s and key institutions’ political and decision-making processes: low-income communities of color.
How many people does your non-profit benefit per year?
Since we are not a direct-services organization, it’s difficult to quantify the exact number of people we serve each year. Our focus area of West and Central Long Beach equals about 90,000 individuals, but the policies we collaborate on impact the lives of all Long Beach residents. Our work directly benefits residents and other community members who are involved in the numerous opportunities offered by Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach and our partners to develop their leadership skills and have a say in the decisions that impact their everyday lives.
How many events/fundraisers do you do a year?
We typically host three large community gatherings a year. In 2017, we will help to organize the sixth annual People’s State of the City on Wednesday, April 5th, and we will host a summer gathering and end-of-year celebration. All events are free and open to the public. For more information about upcoming events and how to donate to our organization, visit: http://www.bhclongbeach.org
What is your biggest challenge during the current economic and political climate?
The biggest challenges facing the communities we work in are a lack of living-wage employment opportunities coupled with rising rents and a lack of protections for renters. The current political environment also exaserbates tensions between groups and puts some of our policy gains and social supports at risk.
What are your future plans or goals for Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach?
Our organization is currently going through a transition because we want to exist beyond The California Endowment’s ten-year initiative. As part of our efforts to sustain the work that we do, we are working on developing an identity and funding streams that go beyond TCE. Our goal is to continue to help bridge the multiple issues impacting our communities and to provide support for the broader movement toward racial and health equity. For a quick sketch of the issues we work on, visit: http://www.bhclongbeach.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CAP-3.0-One-Pager-FINAL.pdf
How can our volunteer community serve you?
The volunteer community can serve Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach by connecting with any one of our amazing partners, attending a community event, volunteering or interning with our office, and donating to our work. You can find all the current and upcoming involvment opportunities at http://www.bhclongbeach.org/action.