CARE Coalition Continues Mission
October 30, 2019
The Elks Lodge Room in downtown Glasgow was host to a meeting of the minds as the Valley CARE Coalition brought community leaders together to discuss their ongoing work. After three and a half years of advocating for the overall health and well-being of residents of Valley County, CARE members were feeling a lull in their work.
The Oct. 17 meeting, with a catered meal by Table for Six, brought together over 20 people to discuss how best CARE can continue to work on addressing health concerns in the county. Formed in April of 2016, the coalition represents the Glasgow Police Department, Valley County Sheriff’s Department, Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center, Valley County Public Health and Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital. Representatives from other organizations, such as Glasgow Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture Executive Director Lisa Koski and Irle Elementary School Principal Rachel Erickson, also attended the brainstorming session, intended to reinvigorate CARE’s work.
CARE was set up to address concerns as identified in a survey given to Valley County residents in 2016. That survey identified three core areas of concern: Nutrition and Physical Activity, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse. At the Thursday meeting, Jennifer Fuller, prevention specialist, and Mary Hughes, both with the Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center, and Bruce Peterson, local mental health advocate, led the participants in discussions on how to continue the vital work of the coalition after discussing the original intent behind their creation.
Within the working meeting, Hughes, Fuller and Peterson asked participants to focus on identifying needs, working with resources, and how best to leverage the community to improve livability and mobility. The leaders used both active discussions to brainstorm and written suggestions to draw on the resources and creativity of local leaders to improve their community involvement by building bridges between the coalition and other relevant organizations. Several suggestions flowed out from the group as knowledge and resources were shared, giving a jolt to some stalled planning.
Giving people a chance to interact and bounce ideas off others outside their immediate circle gave rise to many learning of new or alternative resources they did not know about or may not have considered in their research. Discussions on the possibilities of parenting classes, emotional first aid, and funding availability abounded as participants reconsidered how best to approach their provided services to the community.
Discussions ranged from helping the very young, via school or parenting classes, to how to better integrate interactions between youth and the retired communities. The PAX Good Behavior Game being implemented at Irle Elementary and the JustServe day held Oct. 12 were held up as examples of programs that improve both mental and physical well-being. The Milk River Group was also touted as an excellent organization with resources to be emulated.
While some attendees mused that perhaps they did not leave with a concrete plan of action for moving forward, they were impressed with the proposals generated and networking achieved at the meeting. Many stayed to mingle and continue their discussions after the meeting had been adjourned, re-energized just as intended.
As ideas are implemented, CARE hopes to improve their community engagement and build on their foundational work of addressing ongoing physical and mental health concerns as needed in Valley County. The critical work of the coalition will continue as members continue to grow their knowledge and resources, as long as there is a need for their work.