Here’s a way for Mayor Bill Finch to build goodwill with voters as he approaches a reelection cycle. Recruit a corps of kids to go door to door on your behalf. From the mayor:
A group of young adults, working with Bridgeport CARES, have been going door-to-door in the City’s East Side and East End neighborhoods gathering information that will help the City’s Health and Social Services department and other health care providers to better understand residents’ needs.
Bridgeport CARES (Community Allied to Reach Health Equity) is a project of the City of Bridgeport’s Department of Health and Social Services, the Mayor’s Office and a host of other community partners. Bridgeport CARES has hired 25 teenagers from Bridgeport to collect information on the health concerns of Bridgeport residents. Students have been working since September and will continue through the end of October to gather residents’ data by going door-to-door in the East End and East Side, and by phone. The survey was designed with input from local hospitals, health centers, and community groups and organizations. Once completed, the City’s Health Department and its partners will seek to address the identified needs in ways that are meaningful to Bridgeport residents.
Mayor Bill Finch will join the students on one of their canvassing calls Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. at 379 Nichols St., Bridgeport CT to see firsthand the work they have been doing.
“We know how important it is to provide support for all who need those services,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “Bridgeport CARES provides a positive opportunity for local youth to learn valuable skills while gathering data from our residents that will assist us in sharpening our public health services and ensure we are meeting the needs of everyone.”
Bill Quinn, the city’s Acting Health Director, brought the model from New Haven, where he was health director, and adapted it to work in Bridgeport. “Hiring young people to ask the questions answers one of the community’s needs. These young people have something positive to do after school and on weekends, know that the work they are doing is helping their community, and are really making a difference.”
Lataya Ebron, 18, a Housatonic Community College freshman nursing student, felt that “Bridgeport CARES has been a good job. It’s been good to be able to help someone else out.”
Kristin duBay Horton, Bridgeport CARES Project Director notes, “This is about healthy equity – not just health. For instance, childhood obesity and diabetes may be poor health outcomes – health equity doesn’t focus on individual children but rather on their environment and may include issues around access to fresh fruits and vegetables, safe neighborhoods to exercise outdoors in, or poor air quality which leads to high rates of asthma and less physical activity.”
As the group waited for the project to begin the young people performed other important services to meet community needs as part of a summer work-experience program run by The Workplace. Through that work the kids reclaimed a community garden on Arctic Street that was covered in 6-foot high weeds. The garden was planted with raspberries, corn, tomatoes and cucumbers donated by PJ’s Garden Exchange in Trumbull and the crop was donated to the United Congregational Church’s Feel the Warmth Community Supper. The CARES kids have also worked at Feel the Warmth, preparing, serving, and cleaning up meals for the 80-100 people served weekly. James Vaughn, 17, a Harding High School student says that he learned “that people are all the same. Even though everybody goes through a lot of stuff, they are all human beings and we can’t treat them differently. Working [at the community supper] made me appreciate what I have – school, a job, a place to stay.”