Community Matters: Celebrating 30 years of excellence at Country Roads CHC
[The Rideau Lakes community celebrates 30 years of Country Roads CHC. Anna Greenhorn, pictured at right, was one of the community members who was instrumental in getting the CHC off the ground in the 1980s.]
On May 9, Country Roads Community Health Centre celebrated 30 years of exceptional primary health care in rural Southeastern Ontario. The occasion was marked with live music (with Executive Director Marty Crapper throwing down some mean bass alongside local musician Melanie Weber), a shared meal, and some poignant reflections by community members and leaders. People shared stories of helping to steward the CHC from humble roots – half a day a week in a single room – into the hub of community-governed comprehensive primary health care that it is today.
Anna Greenhorn, a lifelong resident and tireless volunteer in the Rideau Lakes area, and a founding member of Country Roads CHC’s Board of Directors, gave a passionate speech about the work it took at the community level to lay the foundation for what Country Roads would become. Greenhorn, who was the first woman elected to municipal council in the area in the 1980s, wasn’t shy about telling us what it took to get the CHC off the ground, and to help it grow into an organization that truly meets the needs of people facing barriers to their best possible health and wellbeing.
“If you’re going to succeed in a community, the community members have to have their seat at the decision-making table,” Greenhorn said. “The community knows what it needs.”
Greenhorn, who’s now in her late eighties, talked about what it meant to her when she was recovering from illness to be able to walk into the centre and be greeted by people who knew her, and who she knew really cared about her. “It makes all the difference in the world when you’re trying to get well. It’s because of Community Health Centres that people can stay living at home.”
Country Roads CHC – which opened in 1988 and was, at the time, the 16th Community Health Centre to open its doors in the province – now offers primary care and community health services and programs at locations in Portland, and Westport, Ont. Serving over 4,000 people, the interprofessional team delivers primary care and so much more: seniors exercise programs, mindfulness and stress-reduction drop-ins, chronic pain management, mental health supports, walking programs, teen health clinics, parenting education and support groups, and a dental health program. As they say on their website, Country Roads truly is “one stop shopping for family and community health.”
It’s the continuity of the community’s sense of ownership and pride in its health centre that shines the brightest, though. Greenhorn stressed the importance of community members being given a role in their own health as a key to Country Roads’ success, and she cited the volunteer programs as a key element of that success. “The top thing that keeps people well is working in the community, having a shared sense of purpose.”
When current Country Roads CHC Board Chair Peter Hannah took the stage to offer a toast to the 30th anniversary milestone, he struck a similar note, raising his glass to the volunteers who help support the centre staff in offering truly wraparound care. “This is for you, and the next 30 years.”
[Clinton Cowan, AOHC Board member, left, presents a certificate to mark the 30th anniversary to current Country Roads CHC Board Chair Peter Hannah.]
[Country Roads CHC Executive Director Marty Crapper and local musician Melanie Weber threw down some rockabilly to help mark 30 years of excellence in rural community health.]