CHEER - A guest of African Community Forum
This past summer Vineda Myers was one of four guests on Episode 16 of African Community Forum, which is a TV series that began in April of 2015 and aims to inform and engage the African Immigrant community, as well as bridge the gap between organizations, government officials, and individuals. This TV series is a 2015 Monty Award winner, and can bee seen on DCTV, in Fairfax County, VA, and in Montgomery County, MD.
The topic of Episode 16 was Health in Montgomery County, and the other contributors to the discussion included Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, and Rev. Adrian Ngudiankama, MPHIL., PhD.
Vineda shared information about the role that CHEER plays in helping community members meet their health needs, and an overview of how our work benefits the community. You can watch the video here:
CHEER (Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research) is a nonprofit that does community development in Takoma Park and Long Branch (which is located on the border of Silver Spring and Takoma Park, next to Langley Park).
Our work began in 2008, and includes the areas of Health, Housing, Civic Engagement, and Youth Development.
CHEER’s mission is to provide people with the knowledge and ability to create healthy & thriving communities.
The demographics in our area is largely Hispanic and African Immigrants, and we have found that the most common health issues in our community are:
Alcohol & Substance Abuse
Health Care Access
In 2014, CHEER hired six Community Outreach Specialists to connect community members to health and wellness resources.
They are from the communities where they work, and four are Hispanic and speak Spanish and English, two are Ethiopian and speak Amharic and English, and one is from the Congo and speaks French, Swahili, and English.
Our Community Outreach Specialists receive training in specific areas of health, such as preventing cardiovascular disease, diabetes prevention, & health insurance literacy.
For the last 3 years our Community Outreach Specialists have assisted community members during Affordable Care Act open enrollment periods. They have helped hundreds of community members by:
filling out applications
enrolling them in Qualified Health Plans & Medicaid
and answering questions
Two County programs, Montgomery Cares and Care for Kids, provide subsidies to primary health care providers who treat qualifying residents.
These county programs, Montgomery County’s safety net clinics (Mobile Med, Mary’s Center, etc.), and the Affordable Care Act, make it easier to access primary health care, but many still have difficulty accessing it when they need it.
The Affordable Care Act does not cover many immigrants, and in 2014 our Community Outreach Specialists found that only about half of those referred to a Montgomery Care’s clinic were able to get appointments.
Our Community Outreach Specialists seek out those community members who are having difficulty accessing primary health care in Long Branch and Takoma Park, and help them navigate the system.
In addition to Health, our work focuses on Housing, Civic Engagement, and Youth Development.
Some examples of our work include:
Housing - We work with renters to facilitate the process of starting and sustaining tenant associations, provide peer support and leadership development, share information and resources, provide opportunities for them to get to know each other and build relationships with each other.
Civic Engagement - We work with several elementary schools in the Takoma Park/Long Branch area who have a Linkages to Learning program (a YMCA program for schools with especially high FARMS [free & reduced meal] rates). Montgomery Knolls ES, Rolling Terrace ES, New Hampshire Estates ES, Joann Leleck ES. We attend their monthly Morning Coffee Meetings to connect with community members and give presentations on topics such as renters rights & responsibilities, the Affordable Care Act, health insurance literacy, and other areas of interest in the community.
Youth Development - We worked with local organizations and community members who are committed to the advancement of youth to create The Takoma Park Youth Collaborative. CHEER ran this program, and with the support of MANUP, Montgomery College, and others, provided Entrepreneurship Training, and Work Readiness Training to youth in TP & surrounding areas.
Enjoy the show!