Originally published in The Weekly Packet's Compass, August 25, 2011
Healthy Peninsula says it will continue to promote health
by Faith DeAmbrose
The Healthy Maine Partnership collaborative announced recently that funding for Healthy Maine partners would be cut, with the result that Healthy Peninsula will lose its state contract to operate as a sanctioned “Healthy Maine Partner.” “The news is not devastating,” said HP Director Amy Vaughn, adding that Healthy Peninsula will continue to support the needs of the 10 communities it serves.
For the last decade, Healthy Peninsula has been a member of Healthy Maine Partnership. In Washington and Hancock counties, a total of six organizations had that distinction, but with a new round of contracts that number has been reduced to two—one for Hancock County and one for Washington County. Hancock County’s contract has been awarded to Healthy Acadia.
Healthy Peninsula has been at the forefront of grassroots community-fueled programs aimed at keeping the towns of the greater Blue Hill Peninsula healthy. The nonprofit organization has implemented many programs addressing tobacco cessation, healthy eating and nutrition, substance abuse and workplace wellness.
To satisfy the mandates that come with the state contract, HP has worked to juggle state-identified policy initiatives alongside its own programs. Now that state tax funding has been taken away, those initiatives will no longer drive the programs administered by HP, said Vaughn, although the group will continue to support and promote health. While the grant process, the state application for funding, and the decision to fund one and not another of the Healthy Maine coalitions are complicated, at the heart of the matter is that without the state funding, HP is free to seek other funding sources and tailor its programs to the communities it covers.
Accepting state funding meant that HP had to do a lot of “technical work,” said Vaughn, and pass out a lot of flyers and work on larger policy issues, and while that is all worthwhile, the loss of funding will mean that the group can spend its resources working on local programs.
Over the last few years, HP has established an integrated nutrition education program in Sedgwick, which will soon branch out to other towns. It has aided food pantries and local community greenhouse and gardening projects, has worked with Head Start and recently created a “Magic Bus” to deliver books and fresh produce to families around Sedgwick. HP has also worked to incubate local Friends and Neighbors groups, and is working with the Deer Isle school system to implement Ready by 21.
“I don’t think people are going to see very much change in what we do and in the programs we offer,” said Vaughn. The loss of funding “will be a challenge,” she said, “but it is also an opportunity to develop our community assets more fully. We have a history of being a catalyst for projects and for bringing the right partners together. We will now have the capacity to do more of that.”
Healthy Peninsula has also moved its location. It is now located at 286 Caterpillar Hill, Suite B, in Sedgwick. For more information, call 359-2441.