Small Acts of Bravery, Caring and Connection

Small acts of bravery, caring, and connection can heal this pain and weave the future we want

This is the Hammonton Health Coalition (HHC) Facebook cover, a colorful picture showing a diverse group of kids, teachers, parents, first responders, and artists, holding hands around a school building. The fact that they are holding hands makes them seem connected, united, and stronger together. We know there will not be hands holding for a while. Still, we decided to keep the cover during the pandemic, because we believe in the importance of promoting social connection during these times of social distancing.

We are experiencing exceedingly difficult circumstances. And with challenge and change comes uncertainty and fear. Now more than ever, we need each other to overcome this crisis. We need alternative and creative ways to stay connected that are inclusive and guarantee that everyone has access to the information and resources they need.

At the Hammonton Health Coalition, we feel we have been preparing for this crisis since our creation. From the first day, we have been working to build trust, grow relationships, discover the gifts within every member of our community, and to generate opportunities to offer mutual support. Our vision is to create a healthy, strong, vibrant, and safe Hammonton community. Our passion and years of experience working with cross-sector partner organizations in South Jersey prove to be the most useful now.

From the beginning of the pandemic, we have been sharing information in English and Spanish about available resources using our websites, social media channels, and hosting webinars. Also, we are actively engaged with the Hammonton Coronavirus Task Force, to keep the town informed about the community initiatives in place and help them translate the information they distribute into Spanish.

We have been leading initiatives to reduce barriers to access to food and other resources that are less available to our at-risk population, including Latinos and undocumented immigrants. Together we are multiplying the resources available to the entire community. We have distributed food, diapers, and art & crafts supplies. Rancocas Creek, a new sustainable farm, partnered with us to donate summer squash, zucchini, beets, kale, and Swiss Chard to Hammonton families in need.

We are supporting small businesses and home-based entrepreneurs. We distributed face masks to farmworkers made by local entrepreneurs and personal hygiene bags. We have started Facebook campaigns to encourage community members to support local businesses. We created the “Send Local Dining to the Heroes Front Lining” initiative, a website to support locally owned restaurants while showing the state’s collective gratitude to front line medical personnel.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created additional stress for already disadvantaged people who work on the front lines, triggering or exacerbating underlying medical conditions and unhealthy behaviors. To help them, we offer a Free Counseling Helpline (609-878-2007) available to anyone experiencing emotional distress related to COVID-19.  This line was also created to provide free counseling and stress reduction support to healthcare workers supporting people affected with COVID-19 in our communities. This service is available in English, Spanish, and Sign Language.

We are continually creating new Facebook campaigns for our followers to offer them opportunities to stay connected virtually with their community. During the pandemic, we have organized a Mother’s Day campaign, Cinco de Mayo contest, Father’s Day campaign, a window drawing campaign, kids drawing contest, and make your fun face mask campaign, among others. We also invited local High school students who did not have the chance to have a graduation ceremony to share their experience with us as Latino students and their plans.

These last four months have allowed us to show our community all the things we can achieve when working together. Because it is in small acts of bravery, caring, and connection that we can heal this pain and weave the future we want. Our community members are our most valuable resource, and we know they have found meaning in helping others.

For more information on the mission of the Hammonton Health Coalition and how to support it, email them at Hammonton.HC@gmail.com.

Image courtesy Hammonton Health Coalition.

About the Lead Author

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Diana Mendez
Diana Mendez is the Communications Manager at Allies in Caring, a non-profit organization in Hammonton, NJ, dedicated to helping Latino and underserved communities.

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