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Spotlight on Healthier Community Builders: Quest CHC celebrates partners

These Quest Community Builders helped prepare lunch!

Healthier Community Builders are people who work in partnership and cooperation with others to create the conditions for everyone to achieve their best possible health and wellbeing. They could be staff or volunteers at an Alliance member centre, or even a board member from the community. Or perhaps they are a partner who works more widely, but whose work intersects with health and wellbeing, such as a coach, community organizer, or local leader. Whatever their background, the work that Healthier Community Builders do is work we ALL rely on every day to make our neighbourhoods, workplaces, recreation facilities, public spaces, health and social services, and community activities come to life. We put the spotlight on these local heroes to bring their work -- and its importance to overall health and wellbeing -- into wider discussions of what it means to build a healthier community. This week, the spotlight is on St. Catharines.

To cap off their Community Health and Wellbeing Week celebrations, staff and volunteers at Quest Community Health Centre in the Queenston Street neighbourhood of St. Catharines held a hearty group lunch and spent some time reflecting on the role of community in the centre's work.

Quest CHC Executive Director Coletta McGrath was on hand, and offered remarks saluting the CHC's 200+ volunteers (many of whom were attending the luncheon), the centre's interdisciplinary staff, and the guidance of the CHC's community-governed board of directors, for making sure that the direction of the centre's services and health care meet local needs. But the tagline of this year's Community Health and Wellbeing Week -- Building Healthier Communities Together was top of mind for Quest, and so the Healthier Community Builder Awards they handed out went to three important external partners, all of which, as McGrath said, are integral to meeting the community's health and wellbeing needs.

"We regularly connect with, and collaborate with our community partners to ensure the availability of individualized, client-services, and to enhance our capacity to do community building. That's what community is about," McGrath said.

Healthier Community Builder awards were given to:

Queenston Community Roundtable (links to Facebook page): Represented by Caleb Ratzlaff and Brandon Agnew, this group has worked with Quest to invigorate an assets-based community development approach to gathering residents, business owners, service providers, faith-based groups and local leaders to generate tangible ideas for activities, events and improvements to enhance the liveability and community offerings in the Queenston Street area. It's a regular table with regular engagements, and Quest has found them to be strong partners in setting goals for the area that are achieveable help change lives.

Niagara Connects: Mary Wiley, Executive Director, accepted the award on behalf of Niagara Connects, which is responsible for the Niagara Report, a critical resource in the region for identifying existing and emerging community needs, and keeping tabs on the many factors that impact the determinants of health. Niagara Connects also facilitates knowledge exchange between service providers, community organizations and others, to facilitate best practices in health and social services and to work towards a more seamless and nimble experience for Niagara residents. They are also the authors and stewards of the Niagara Region's Mental Health and Addictions Charter, and have worked extensively on transportation and lessening the impacts of isolation in the region. "When we talk about evidence to support building a healthier community, it's still really about people at the end of the day," Wiley said.

Niagara Regional Police Services, Chief Bryan MacCulloch. The last award went to an individual -- the local Police Chief, who has 33 years in policing, but who has also spent time on community boards getting to know the local issues from a number of diverse perspectives. McGrath also mentioned his participation in the overdose prevention and education network in Niagara, consistently attending every meeting and offering sensitive and creative contributions to the wider discussions of responses to the crisis. "Chief MacCulloch is about building relationships -- with individuals, and across organizations. And he's also about building a stronger community."

We salute this week's Healthier Community Builders! If you have a Healthier Community Builder in your area you'd like to shine the spotlight on, send us a message at communications@allianceON.org.