We are excited to start a series to share about our partners and collaborators in the community. We had no idea that while sharing a partner highlight with you all, we would also get to share an exciting announcement in the same stroke of a pen (okay, more like the stroke of a keyboard!).
Our collaborative relationship with Wello started before our agency even opened our doors. The program which started it all, Black Youth Alliance - WI, established a robust and authentic partnership leading to 6 years of health equity collaboration efforts between an organization that covers systems impact/change and one that delivers direct services. At present - we currently partner on both a food access program in addition to COVID & Wellness clinics. The food access program allows us to work with local farmers to get fresh, local produce into the hands and homes of survivors throughout the summer and fall seasons. Onproject e of the reasons our agency values our relationship with Wello is due to the level of collaboration. We work together through the projects' planning, development, execution, and evaluation. Our food access program will also include cooking equipment, recipes, and how-to videos provided with the food boxes through our learnings from last year. This was due to the direct feedback from survivors and the innovative and collaborative methodology from our staff. This strong collaboration has now morphed into a multi-year initiative called “Cultivating Community” with the following description (click here to read the press release from Wello):
“There are many common diseases that have ravaged the black community for centuries. The history of the African people is of those who enjoy rich vegetables like yams/sweet potatoes, okra, apricots, black-eyed peas, and cabbage but without the meat. The hierarchical structures of violence, including systemic and institutional oppression, have created hunger in areas with food deserts, mistrust in the healthcare systems, and supported habits of the overabundance of fast and highly processed foods, among other things. Many in our culture depend heavily on the community and safety that food represents during times of great suffering. Food always has and will always be an expression of culture. However, many African Americans have only maintained parts of our ancestors' recipes from the Motherland. We have done what we could with those stories, ingredients and traditions passed down by generations and feel honored. Still, we have historically lacked access to land and resources to build rich gardens and, over time, have adapted our western versions of our ancestors' recipes. The We All Rise & Wello collaboration known as “Cultivating Community” wants to pay homage to that by providing community members with rich, organic, locally grown produce to bring back the other flavors of our history.”
Additionally, our COVID & Wellness Clinics were a collaborative effort between our agency,
Wello, Prevea Health, and COMSA (Community Services Agency Inc - a nonprofit community organization with the sole purpose of providing services for and walking with Somali refugees in our community). These clinics allowed us to bring in the appropriate medical staff to talk with (through concerns, questions, and processing support) and vaccinate survivors and their families on our site. In addition, we had Granny (our food service volunteer) cook out of our agency food truck and handed out free soul food meals to the community. We were intentional about ensuring that survivors and their children still had access to complete an intake, hygiene, and clothing closet resources at our youth center, meet with them, advocate, or work in the job center during these clinics. We are so thankful for our collaboration with Wello (Natalie, Beth, Mario, and Rogelio we truly appreciate all you guys are and all you do) and look forward to a continued partnership, programs, courageous collaboration, and action.
Don't forget to check Wello out with the following links: