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2018 in Review

2018 has been a busy year for CHEER. We've accomplished a lot, and we have much more planned for next year.

CHEER’s mission is to provide people with the knowledge and ability to create healthy, thriving communities.  It facilitates an inclusive, community driven process for addressing community-defined-priority goals, and utilizes holistic, data-driven, place-based strategies to fulfill those goals.



Long Branch Healthy Food Access

Long Branch Healthy Food Access Program

Montgomery County FoodStat data estimates over 6.000 people in the Long Branch/Takoma Park area (14% of the total population) have insecure access to food. This has huge health implications, especially for people with diet related diseases, such as diabetes.


In June 2017 CHEER launched the Long Branch healthy food access program. This partnership with health care providers (Washington Adventist Hospital and Mobile Med) and food providers (Manna Food Center and Crossroads Community Food Network) serves people in the Silver Spring and Takoma Park area who have diabetes and do not have secure access to food. This program provides them with weekly distributions of fresh vegetables for 12 weeks, personal support from a linguistically and culturally competent community health worker, and offers cooking demonstrations, nutrition education, and fitness opportunities.


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In FY 2018 CHEER enrolled 162 people in the program and provided 1,221 boxes of food. A recent evaluation by the Primary Care Coalition shows that the Long Branch Healthy Food Access program reduced food insecurity and improved healthy eating and shopping behaviors. As a consequence 60% of those with fair or poor health improved their self-reported health status, 67% of overweight or obese participants lost an average of 8.2 pounds during the 3 month program and 79% of these lost an additional 3.8 pounds 3 months after the program ended. 75% of participants with out of control diabetes improved their blood glucose control (HbA1c).

Housing and Community Development

Housing and Community Development

CHEER joined with the Long Branch Business League to create community space for residents of all ages to enjoy. On June 29 the parking lot at Arliss and Piney Branch became a popup park with food, music and activities for kids of all ages, and another was held on August 9 at the Long Branch pool. In March, we helped organize Takoma Park renters to testify before the City Council about their concerns for improved housing quality and stable rents.


We have also sponsored or co-sponsored many community events, such as the Discover Long Branch 5K Run/Walk and the Takoma Park MLK Day celebration and day of service, and more.

Healthcare Access

Healthcare Access and ACA Enrollment

The diverse population of Long Branch and Takoma Park includes many people of limited means, and immigrant families that have limited access to health care, health insurance and other basic needs. CHEER’s community health workers and community outreach specialists conduct outreach to connect people to health and wellness resources, including making appointments for uninsured people in need of medical care to Montgomery County safety net clinics.


We are also a state certified Application Counselor Sponsoring Entity, which allows CHEER’s trained application counselors to enroll people in Medicaid or Qualified Health Plans through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.


In fiscal year 2018, CHEER’s community outreach specialists conducted health and wellness outreach to 2,259 community members. 916 were referred to community health and wellness resources. From October 2017 to September 2018, CHEER’s application counselors enrolled 350 households, (712 people) in Medicaid or Qualified Health Plans

Lunch and Learn

Lunch and Learn

Lunch and Learn is a free summer youth camp, for school aged Takoma Park children who qualify for the Free and Reduced Meals program. The program offers daily bus transportation to and from the facility, free breakfast and lunch for all campers through the MCPS Summer Food Service Program, sports, such as soccer, basketball and play time in a safe, nurturing, and physically and academically stimulating environment.


In 2018 the camp served 142 youth. 71 elementary school youth, and 71 high school-aged Junior Leadership students, which was held at Takoma Academy in Takoma Park from June 25 to August 1.


The elementary school campers participated in reading and math classes, swimming lessons, social and emotional learning activities and other enrichment activities.



The elementary school campers participated in reading and math classes, swimming lessons, social and emotional learning activities and other enrichment activities.


The middle and high school youth engaged in social and educational enrichment and service learning. Youth leadership students were able to earn Student Service Learning (SSL) hours for assisting with a range of tasks at camp. 71 Youth performed 6,007 hours of service.

Empowerment and Leadership Development

Empowerment and Leadership Development

CHEER cultivates grassroots community leadership in some of the least represented areas of our community. This year three people we have been working with became officers in the Rolling Terrace PTA. At New Hampshire Estates Elementary School,


CHEER supported a new community garden, a parent-led school and park clean-up, and a school-wide block party. We also interviewed 67 people in the least represented neighborhoods throughout Takoma Park and Long Branch to learn about their hopes and concerns. This included 14 interviews with immigrant women on Maple Avenue of Takoma Park. The Maple Avenue women subsequently gathered to meet with the Mayor and a City Council member to discuss their goals and concerns, which included affordable childcare, accessible recreation activities, and after school programs.


Overall, in fiscal year 2018, CHEER conducted 16 events connecting with 179 community members.



In 2018, CHEER actively participated in multiple partnerships and coalitions. Some of the most active include the Food Is Medicine Program which seeks to bridge health care providers and food assistance programs throughout Montgomery County, Food Recovery and Access Workgroup of the Montgomery County Food Council, and Community Organizations Active in Disasters, which is organized by the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security

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