Click here for a pdf copy of the Winter 2017 CONNECTION Newsletter

Greater Fall River 
Health Update
January 1, 2017

Click here for the new WalkFallRiver web site

The sixth annual Polar Plunge to benefit the Forever Paws Animal Shelter took place on New Year's Day, 2017, at Sandy Beach in the City's South end. Sponsored by the City's Neighborhood Association, the event drew about 200 people, most of them spectators, to watch several city officials and over 40 others wade into the frigid water. The air temperature hovered in the low 40s with the water temperature even lower. Mayor Jasiel Correia thanked everyone for their support of the Animal Shelter before he led the group into the water following a countdown. Everyone splashed and some dove in, but no one stayed very long before returning to the shore to dry off. All were then welcomed into a warming tent provided by Greater Fall River Re-Creation. Forever Paws staff were pleased with the turnout and hoped that the donations will help them continue to provide shelter to animals throughout the year. Click here for a four-minute video of the event and here for more photos..
The final AHA! Fall River event of the year, "Starry Night", held on December 15, 2016, featured a marketplace with an array of crafters, free gift wrapping, local artists, musical performances and over forty different events. The Government Center lobby was decorated with trees from the Festival of Trees, including one by Mass in Motion Fall River Coordinator Julie Kelly featuring ornaments depicting people on bicycles, skates, skis and other alternatives to automobiles. AHA! Fall River was formed in June 2013 in collaboration with the New Bedford AHA! and the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts. AHA! stands for arts, history and architecture. The purpose of the organization is to develop collaborative relationships in order to expand and sustain arts and cultural programming in the two cities. Click here for a five-minute video of the event. Click here for Marc Munroe Dion's reading of the John McAvoy "Christmas Remembrance" story and here for more photos and text..
The South Coast Mission Hub is a collaboration of eight Episcopal churches in the South Coast Region of Massachusetts. These churches came together with the goal of becoming more involved and effective in invoking positive change in their communities. The group invited a number of organizations to participate in a "What We Need Is Here: An Evening Uncovering Gifts in Community" event held on December 4, 2016 at the Church of Our Savior in Somerset. Partners staff members Marcia Picard and David Weed participated along with John Silva of the Women's Center and Wendy Garf-Lipp of United Neighbors of Fall River. The Hub sponsors Episcopal Church Life Together Fellows who work together with other volunteers on a variety of projects. The South Coast Mission Hub is an initiative of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and is funded through the Together Now campaign. Click here for a seven-minute video of portions of the meeting and here for more photos.
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) received a two year planning grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to collect baseline data and design a longitudinal research study that will measure the impact of environmental conditions, particularly mixed-income, mixed-use, transit oriented real estate development (“TOD”) projects, on health in a variety of Massachusetts neighborhoods. The research study will track environmental conditions and health in neighborhoods targeted for investment in such TOD projects compared to environmental conditions and health in control neighborhoods with similar demographics, built environments and health outcome characteristics over a five- to ten-year period. The study will track neighborhood changes across multiple domains to include economic, social, behavioral, environmental, and health outcome indicators. On December 8, 2016, members of the survey teams from Brockton, Fall River and New Bedford met at the YMCA Southcoast headquarters in New Bedford to hear and comment on a preliminary report of the findings. Click here for more photos and text..
Ten-year-old Zoe Plante asked her friends to donate coats to the United Neighbors Winter Coat Drive in lieu of  gifts for her recent birthday party. "Some people brought more than one coat; they brought two or three," she reported. When asked why she did this, she said "It's nice for people to have a coat in the winter when it's going to be freezing." She said that helping people stay warm is "a bigger gift" than anything she might be given. "I'm very proud of her," said her mother. "Thirty-one coats were donated," said United Neighbors Executive Director Wendy Garf-Lipp, "And two went out the door today!" The annual Winter Coat Drive brings in hundreds of coats, both new and gently used, that are given to adults and children in Fall River, many of whom cannot afford both clothing and food for their families. Zoe's mother, who works in the Fall River Probate Court, heard about the coat drive through a hairdresser that both Wendy and she know. Jeannie Bettencourt of Trenz Salon is responsible for bringing in dozens of coats that her customers donate. Click here for a two-minute video of Zoe and here for more photos and text.
The32nd Annual Holiday Children's Parade stepped off from Kennedy Park shortly after 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 3rd with 125 groups from local schools and organizations lined up to walk a heart-healthy half-mile parade route on South Main Street from the Park to Government Center. "I'm always amazed at the turnout every year" said Greater Fall River Re-Creation's Executive Director Grace Gerling who, along with Annemarie Holly, organized the event, the largest Holiday Parade in New England. The Parade included WSAR Radio personalities Councilor Ray Mitchell, Ric Oliveira and Happy Hec Gauthier, the Hills Mills Clown Band, giant clydesdale horses, the Rehoboth Minute Company, and a giant Kermit the Frog inflatable.Click here for the Herald News article. Click here to see larger versions of all of the photos. Click here for an 18-minute video of this year's parade, and here for more photos  and text.
Caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia can be a difficult physical, emotional and mental challenge. Care giving can go on for years and requires special understanding, patience and skills. A new Alzheimer's and Dementia Educational Support Group is specifically designed for people caring for someone with memory impairment. The group provides an opportunity for caregivers affected by Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia to share their experiences and receive information, guidance and support regarding care planning strategies.  The group meets at the Family Resource Center, 45 Rock Street, on the first and third Friday of each month from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The group is led by Licensed Social Worker Alan Johnson of Hope Dementia & Alzheimer’s Services that offers a wide array of services for those living with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, their caregivers, and the healthcare professionals and community agencies that support them. Click here for a two-minute video of the start of the meeting and here for more photos and text.
A state-wide group from the eleven Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) communities toured Greater Fall River Re-creation  Headquarters. Program Director Annemarie Holly showed the group the location for the YouthBuild Program, the SSYI and Shannon Grant Program headquarters, the High Step Program, and the Family Service Association Family Resource Center, all located at 45 Rock Street. SSYI youth are connected to each of these programs as part of their program. Following the tour, the group went to the Boys and Girls Club to participate in a meeting about effective practices around the state. The Safe and Successful Youth Initiative uses a positive youth development model to reduce youth violence at a community level. This includes identifying gaps in service needs and resources and establishing a statewide consensus around measures of success. The project was developed through the Healthy Youth Task Force that Partners sponsors. Click here for a 12-minute video and here for more photos.
World AIDS Day was celebrated in Fall River on December 1, 2016, beginning with a ceremony at Gromada Plaza in front of Government Center. About two dozen people gathered at noon to mark the 27th anniversary of the worldwide event and the 12th time that people have gathered to mark the day in Fall River. "On this World Wide AIDS Day, I would like to remind ourselves of the great work we have been able to accomplish in our city for the past twenty-five years and the work that we still have to continue for our future generations," stated Connie Rocha-Mimoso of Seven Hills Behavioral Health. "It looks like we're finally starting to see the light and win," stated Fall River Health and Human Services Director Henry Vaillancourt, M.D.. "We have treatments that are highly effective. . . For your friends or people you know, encourage them to get tested if they have any risk factors," he added. The event continued with resource tables in the atrium of Government Center. Click here for a ten-minute video and here for more photos and text
Local politicians, school officials, School Committee members, and agency representatives were invited to the official opening the new Parent and Community Engagement Center (PACE) located at B.M.C. Durfee High School on November 23, 2016. The occasion highlighted several years of work to bring a number of school resources into one location that was readily accessible to parents and other members of the public. The location just off the small parking lot, with dedicated parking spaces near the school entrance, allows parents and others to enter without going through the building. "We wanted to create a welcome and engaging space so that parents, when they come in to register, the first point of contact, we're all about customer service," stated Superintendent Dr. Matt Malone. The location includes the Early Childhood Center and Special Education Services, the Fall River Parent Academy, Homeless Education Services, Language Services for English Learners, Student Assignment Services, and Youth Work Permits. Click here for an eight-minute video and here for more photos and text.
Students from Durfee High School and Bishop Connelly High School attended the first of five sessions that will be provided to various groups of youth around the city to learn how to confront discrimination and prejudice in their own lives and the lives of their fellow students held on November 30, 2016 at the Fall River Boys and Girls Club. The training is a project of United Neighbors of Fall River and Partners and was led by Social Capital Inc. AmeriCorps Jay Wong who took the group through a series of exercises that illustrated examples of bias that they encounter and then asked them to think of a variety of strategies to effectively confront those situations. Once they complete the training, students will be taking an active role within their schools and organizations to make a difference in how people respond to instances of prejudice and discrimination. Click here for a 12-minute video of part of the discussion and here for more photos and text.


Get ready to stand in the Winners' Circle of the 10th Annual Greater Fall River Fitness Challenge!

Starts with the opening Health Fair on Saturday, January 14th, 10:00 a.m. to Noon.

Ends with a Finale on April 21st where the new winners will be announced!

Start getting your team together now so you'll be ready to compete!


Healthy City Fall River Update is sent to over 500 participants in Healthy City Fall River, a partnership between the City of Fall River and Partners for a Healthier Community with a mission to improve the health status of all those who live or work in the City of Fall River. For further information about Healthy City Fall River, go to To see all of the web pages describing Healthy City activities, go to In order to send announcements of Healthy City events or to subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, contact the Coordinator at Agencies: please add this e-mail address or our fax number (508-324-2429) to your standard media notification list so we can cover your event on the Healthy City Update.