2019 in Review
2019 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 Program
Access to healthy food is essential to good health, especially for
people with diet related disease, such as diabetes. In the Long
Branch/Takoma Park area one in seven (about 6,000 people) have
insecure access to food. The Long Branch Healthy Food Access
program provides people with diabetes and low access to healthy food
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
In Fiscal Year 2019, CHEER enrolled 114 people in the program and
provided 1,543 boxes of food. CHEER also provided food assistance
and referrals to 197 patients as part of the County-wide Food is
I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.
A recent evaluation by the Primary Care Coalition(PCC) shows that the Long Branch Healthy Food Access programimproved healthy eating and shopping behaviors. Consequently, 62%of overweight or obese participants lost an average of 9 pounds duringthe 3-month program and 92% of these maintained or continued tolose weight 3 months after the program ended. 65% of participantsimproved their blood glucose control (HbA1c). This program lowershealth risks, reduces hospital visits, and saves an estimate of up to $27,000 in medical costs. Adventist Healthcare and the Healthcare Initiative Foundation provided substantial support for this program.
Housing and Community Development
CHEER is taking a leadership role in mobilizing the community to develop its own vision for the future of Long Branch as development pressures build from the construction of the Purple Line through Long Branch. CHEER convened a Long Branch Housing and Community Development advisory team. At the Long Branch Festival in late September, CHEER and the County Planning Department shared a booth so festival participants could share their vision for the community’s future. CHEER administered 82 surveys during the week-long Festival as a first effort to begin what will be an ongoing visioning process.
CHEER has also sponsored or co-sponsored many community events, such as block parties and neighborhood picnics in Long Branch and on Maple Avenue in Takoma Park.
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 2019, CHEER’s community outreach specialists conducted health and wellness outreach to 2,035 community members. 976 were referred to community health and wellness resources.
From October 2018 to September 2019, CHEER’sapplication counselors enrolled 319 households (851 people) in Medicaid or Qualified Health Plans.
Lunch and Learn
Lunch and Learn is a free, Takoma Park-based, summer camp for kids ranging in ages from Kindergarten to 11th grade. Participants qualify for the Free and Reduced Meals program.
The camp offers daily bus transportation to and from the facility and free breakfast and lunch for all campers through the MCPS Summer Food Service Program. In 2019 the camp enrolled 198 youth, which was held at Takoma Park Elementary School in partnership with MCPS from June 24 to August 2.
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. 67 Youth performed 1,634 hours of service.
Empowerment and Leadership Development
CHEER cultivates grassroots community leadership in some of the least represented areas of our community.
This year CHEER facilitated the creation of two new community groups. One is Connexo, which is a new parent leaders’ group at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School.
Conexo played a major role in advocating for code enforcement and enhanced safety in the Quebec Terrace neighborhood and played a major role in providing food at the New Hampshire Estates School-wide block party.
The second new group is the Maple Tree Group in Takoma Park, which organized a community picnic at Opal Daniels Park for 85 community members.
In 2019 through October, Community-led groups facilitated by CHEER conducted 6 events involving 117 people.
In 2019, CHEER joined in a partnership with Audubon Naturalist Society in their “What Lives in Long Branch Program” which attracted 110 people to examine the life and health of Long Branch Creek. CHEER also participated in ongoing partnerships, such as, the Long Branch Partners, a network of Service Providers; the Takoma Park Service Providers Network; the Food Is Medicine Program which seeks to bridge health care providers and food assistance programs throughout Montgomery County; the 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.