Click here for a pdf copy of the Fall 2014 CONNECTION Newsletter

Healthy City Fall River Update 

September 24, 2014

Click here to see the 2014-2019 Action Plan

Click here for the new video, "Fed Up on the South Coast"

The New Bedford Wellness Initiative, an effort to raise health awareness with the goal to help prevent disease and recover from illness through healthy living and not just medications, organized an airing of the documentary film, Fed Up, produced by ABC's Katie Couric and "Inconvenient Truth's" Laurie David at the New Bedford Whaling Museum auditorium on September 17, 2014. Organized by Cardiologist Michael Rocha, M.D., the film and discussion that followed offered participants a chance to learn about the government policies that supported food manufacturer's move toward low-fat products full of sugar and refined grains that fueled the obesity crisis of the past thirty years. Greater Fall River Partners staff members Marcia Picard and David Weed described their similar efforts, including a twenty-minute sequel video "Fed Up on the South Coast" that recommends ten changes that could help to improve local health. Click here for a for an twenty-minute video of the event and here for more photos and text describing the event..
Staff and advisory board members of the SouthCoast Healthy Housing and Workplace Initiative (SCHHWI) Leadership team gathered for a final meeting at the headquarters of the Southcoast YMCA on September 17, 2014 to summarize and applaud their work to-date. Project Manager Alice Rebelo introduced staff members Gail Rodrigues and Jaime Berberena who put together a 20-minute video composed of interviews with various project participants summarizing the gains that have been made in reducing tobacco use and improving health in the South Coast of the staff who gave field updates and reports on the evaluation plan. SCHHWI was created in 2012 when members of Voices for a Healthy SouthCoast were granted a $1 million Community Transformation grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop smoke-free housing and worksites in the South Coast, Click here for a three-minute video of the meeting and here for more photos and text..
Dog Tags Navigators of Massachusetts held their first 9-11 Victims and Veterans' Stand Down Health and Jobs Fair at Fort Taber in the South End of New Bedford on September 11-13, 2014. Cecil Hickman, of the volunteer group of about ten mostly retired combat veterans, medical professionals and journalists who are working to aid veterans in their benefit claims, planned the event held during a three-day series of events for veterans, victims and family members. The event on September 12 included assistance in the processing of veterans' claims by a specialist from the Providence, RI, Regional Veterans' Administration office, health screenings, and workshops offered by various branches of the military. Community Health Workers (CHWs) who are part of a project led by Kathy Murphy of United Interfaith Action (UIA) were on hand to offer assistance. Click here for the Standard-Times article. Click here for a four-minute video of the event and here for more photos and text.
Participants in the School Community-Partnership met together on September 16, 2014 at the Tradewinds at BMC Durfee High School. Co-chairs Michaela Hetzler and Annemarie Holly welcomed everyone back from the summer and began by introducing Fall River School Student Assignment and Parent Information Coordinator Barbara Allard who spoke about the Empty Chair project. The project is looking for ways to reduce student absenteeism throughout the school system. Following her presentation and one by Fall River Police Detective John Lapointe on gang violence, participants from more than a dozen human service organizations were invited to talk with school adjustment and guidance staff as well as five school resource officers during an open discussion in order to get to know one another better. Click here for an 8-minute video of Barbara Allard's presentation and here for more photos and text.
Members of the Southcoast Worksite Health & Wellness Collaborative were offered three presentations at the September 11, 2014 meeting held at the Sylvia Insurance Company headquarters on Faunce Corner Road in North Dartmouth. Kicking off the meeting was Saul Lookner of Home Benefit IQ who described a free on-site employee education program that employers can use to assist employees with a number of financial problems. He was followed by Lillian Nieves, Pharm. D., Diabetes Educator for Novo Nordisk, Inc. who described her availability to talk with employees about management of diabetes. The final presentation was given by Lu Brito of the Southcoast YMCA who described a Diabetes Prevention Program that is available to employers in the South Coast Area. Chairperson Angela Bras suggested that Collaborative members take advantage of these local resources to help employees address problems that can affect worksite "presenteeism." Click here for an 11-minute video of Ms. Nieves' presentation, click here for a nine-minute video of Mr. Brito's presentation. and click here for more photos and text.
A new Social Capital Inc. Americorps Volunteer funded, through Partners for a Healthier Community, began her new assignment with United Neighbors of Fall River in early September 2014. Sophie Fierst of Maryland chose to work with Partners and United Neighbors for a year to acquire experience in human services and to give back to the Greater Fall River community. As Outreach and Technology Coordinator at United Neighbors, she will divide her time between editing and promoting the web site and working on a number of projects related to Partners 2014-2019 Action Plan. On one of her first assignments, she assisted United Neighbors Executive Director Wendy-Garf Lipp deliver food to the Annelle Delorme-Hagerman Food Pantry of the Church of Our Savior in Somerset and pick up donations of toiletries from church members to be delivered to homeless families living in motels in Somerset and Swansea. Click here for a brief video introduction and here for more photos..
What should health and health care in America look like? And how do we spark the thinking, collaboration and sustained change that will get us there? Two representatives of Partners for a Healthier Community were invited to spend two days in Chicago with representatives of ten similar initiatives around the country to consider new options for achieving their goals with the help of ReThink Health Roundtable staff. The flagship initiative of the Rippel Foundation, ReThink Health, was founded in 2007 by some of the nation's most influential change-makers in health, economics, politics, business and energy. ReThink Health works in communities to help them foster leadership and test innovative ideas for reshaping and redesigning their health and health care systems, continuously learning with those who strive for significant system-wide influence. Drawing on lessons from diverse contexts, ReThnk Health focuses on three areas critical to regional reform: active stewardship; effective strategy and sustainable financing. Click here for a 15 minute video of some of the program and here for more photos and text.
The New Bedford Wellness Initiative, an effort to raise health awareness with the goal to help prevent disease and recover from illness through healthy living and not just medications, held its sixth monthly walk in Buttonwood Park on September 6, 2014. Dr. Michael Rocha assembled over forty dedicated walkers for a two-mile walk around the Park on a humid Saturday morning. Walkers also had the opportunity to purchase fresh produce from Silverbook Farm in Dartmouth and to join a free meditation/stress reduction session with Jonathan Felix. "We've finally made a little blip on the mark," said Dr. Rocha "and the City is starting to take notice that we're trying to do something different to try to get people healthy through diet, exercise, dealing with stress." The walks are open to anyone and are scheduled on the first Saturday of every month at 10:00 a.m. at the Buttonwood Park Zoo. Click here for a for an eight-minute video of the walk and here for more photos, text and video.
ATTENDANCE MATTERS for success, both in school and in life. When a student is absent from school, he/she misses out on opportunities to learn and succeed. The Empty Chair is a symbol that stresses the importance of attendance and the fact that a teacher cannot teach an empty chair. This initiative by the Mayor’s and Superintendent's Attendance Task Force is part of a strategy to develop a culture of attendance. The task force is working to raise awareness of the value of education and how regular student attendance is essential for life-long success. The group has been meeting monthly to assess various initiatives being implemented in the schools as well as to research and develop other innovative solutions to the problem. Understanding that everyone in the community has a stake and a role in ensuring that every student attends school every day, the group is seeking to engage different sectors of the community and work together to improve attendance. Click here for more photos and text.
Highland Park was the venue for a Back 2 School Festival designed to encourage students to attend school every day held on August 30, 2014 at Highland Park. Students engaged in three-on-three basketball and face painting and were given a book bag of donated school supplies that included pencils, notebooks, folders, crayons, and markers. Organized by activist and social work student Jeremy Lavoie and Jason Springer, a physical education teacher at Doran Elementary School, the event was sponsored by BayCoast Bank, Representative Carole Fiola, Greater Fall River Re-Creation, Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter, the Office of Mayor William Flanagan, PieZoni's Pizza and Varela Apparel. Lavoie and Springer stated that they wanted to give back to the community and bring kids together. "We want our community to be better," Springer was quoted as saying in the Fall River Spirit. "We are about creating outlets for our youth to do positive things," he added. Click here for more photos and text.
Community Health Workers who received an eight-week skill training training from Bristol Community College  recently completed internships at a variety of agencies during July and August, 2014. The students received their certificates of completion at a graduation ceremony held on June 30, 2014 at the Davol Street Campus. CHWs are frontline public health workers who understand the community and assist people in navigating their local healthcare system to improve their health and well-being. CHWs work under a variety of job titles that include: family advocate, enrollment worker, health educator, outreach worker, family counselor, patient navigator, and/or health promoter. The training program originated with a group organized by Kathy Murphy of United Interfaith Action (UIA) to recruit, train, place and support CHWs throughout the Fall River and New Bedford Area. Click here for a two-minute video of the students on the job and here for more photos and text.
Members of Students Together Empowering Peers (STEP), a group of local youth organized through the BOLD Coalition, assisted in placing no-smoking signs throughout a number of Fall River Parks on August 11, 2014. Jeremy Clark, Jason Fournier, and Justin Reis worked under the direction of SSTAR Prevention Services Director Michael Aguiar to place the signs as authorized by the City's Board of Park Commissioners earlier this year in nine of the City's parks. The signs request people to "Help Us Keep This Area Smoke and Tobacco Free" or, in the case of children's playgrounds, that "This is a No Smoking Area." "While this is not an ordinance, and there is no fine associated with smoking in the areas of the parks where children gather, the signs simply request adults not to smoke in these areas," stated Parks and Recreation Director Nancy Smith. The signs were purchased through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Transformation Grant that went to the Southcoast YMCA. Click here for more photos.
Staff from the Family Service Association (FSA) have been participating in a weekly yoga group held on the grounds of the First Congregational Church on Rock Street since it was arranged through Greater Fall River Re-Creation. Certified yoga instructor Donna Brown leads the group through 45 minutes of stretches, postures and positions designed to increase flexibility, muscle strength and inner contemplation. The group walks to the church location just a few blocks away from the FSA headquarters on Rock Street. "I really look forward to it," stated Family Service Association Wellness Coordinator who helped to set up the group. "By the time you're done, you feel so much better, and that feeling lasts for days," she added. Other groups who would like to make similar arrangements can contact Re-Creation Program Director Jamison Souza to talk about options. Click here for a one-minute video of the group and here for more photos and text..
The Fall River Youth Community Fest brought together over two hundred people to enjoy a fun-filled day and celebrate the importance of giving back to the community. The free event, which took place on July 19, 2014 at Britland Park, was the brain child of Jeremy Lavoie, a 2009 graduate of B.M.C. Durfee High School. Currently enrolled in Manhattan College, Mr. Lavoie was looking to give back to the community which helped him become the successful young man that he is today. He wanted to offer middle school and high school students and young adults a positive opportunity in which they could begin to achieve their own hopes and dreams. He recruited his friends to volunteer and be role models and to instill the idea that anything is possible. Mr. Lavoie used basketball to help him stay focused, graduate high school and further his education in college and he wanted to pay that forward. The hub of the day was a five-on-five basketball tournament with middle school, high school and open divisions. In all, over twenty teams participated. Click here for more photos and text.


Don't miss the final day of the Fall River's Farmers' Market

at the corner of Columbia and Canal Streets across from the Santo Christo Church

Tuesday, September 30th, 3:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Free Parking in the free City lot across the street!

Locally-grown produce, crafts, cooking demonstrations and live music every week!

Click here for the schedule of all farmer's markets


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.