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Health Council aids and protects Chaves County

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A recent picture of the Chaves County Health Council’s executive team (along with a member of the Health Council, Shelly Currier; and a member of the state Department of Health promotion team, Joann Palomino). Pictured, from left, are Nathan Padilla, fiscal agent with Embrace Inc; Elizabeth Sanchez, vice chairperson; Jennifer Smith, coordinator; Valerie Lopez, chairperson; Shelly Currier; Mari Espinoza, secretary; and Joann Palomino. (Submitted Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The Chaves County Health Council in Roswell is a team of dedicated individuals working to uphold the organization’s mission: To facilitate opportunities for both communication and collaboration pertaining to community health. In this distressing time of COVID-19, they are among the heroes constantly thinking of the community’s welfare. The team never stops moving forward to improve the lives of the community’s residents.

Jennifer Smith, Chaves County Health Council coordinator, spoke recently about the group and how her own life became connected with it.

“I actually began with the Health Council after doing some work with Valerie Lopez,” Smith said. “She worked in the same position as me with the Tessa Anderson Suicide Prevention Coalition. Valerie actually recruited me to be the coordinator for the Chaves County Health Council in October of 2018.”

Smith dove into a number of duties to assist the council.

“On a daily basis, I assist all board members in their individual tasks, while also keeping the records for the council, managing the variety of CCHC social media accounts, preparing agendas and minutes for the monthly meetings, and assisting with project planning and implementation,” she said.

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When it comes to the council’s goals, the list is also a long one.

“The Chaves County Health Council team aspires to become a viable alliance to strengthen and engage our community,” Smith said. “We do this by creating opportunities for positive action that addresses the disparities specific to Chaves County.”

Smith said CCHC believes everyone has the right to live in a community where they feel safe, included, valued and accepted. That belief is the foundation for their work.

“We all work together to engage in efforts to strengthen our community,” she said. “We provide opportunities for education and activities to all residents of Chaves County — especially our veterans, disabled and displaced families. We also promote healthy living and activities for all area residents.”

The team lends support to many other organizations in Chaves County, while spearheading projects for the community.

“Our biggest event for the community is our yearly Chaves County Health Expo,” Smith said. “The first year it was held, the expo was an in-person event that more than 1,000 residents of Chaves County attended, with over 100 booth vendors participating.”

Due to changes the pandemic brought, Smith said, “in 2020, we held the expo as a virtual event. Hosting prerecorded videos on health and wellness from vendors, they were shared online through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for the community — and over 7,000 residents were reached throughout the event.”

She said other changes had to be made during the pandemic to make sure the CCHC could still bring aid to the community.

“Our ability to hold large events, such as the Health Expo, have been adversely affected by COVID-19 due to restrictions on large gatherings,” she said. “So our meetings have been made more convenient for our Health Council members with the use of Zoom and the ability to attend wherever they are. We have kept busy with providing the community with the information they need to navigate life during these trying times, and we continue to consistently provide meaningful, educational events that are safe for the community.

“The fact is, we always try to help where we see a need,” she said.

When looking at other programs the CCHC is a part of, the most recent has focused on helping people stay informed and healthy during the pandemic.

“Our most recent project is a Prevent COVID Campaign,” Smith said. “With this, we provide ‘Prevention Packs’ to the community, free of charge, which contain a reusable face mask, hand sanitizer, hand soap and educational materials related to COVID-19. We are using our ‘211 Information Line’ to take orders for the packs as a way to both gather the orders and provide our citizens with what they need, as well as a way to promote using 211 to the entire community.”

Smith said the information line is an important subject for residents.

“211 is a project we took over in the autumn of 2019 from the United Way of Chaves County. It is a call-in information line that anyone in Chaves County can call to get info about health, mental health, community needs, food banks, utility aid and any other information that may be needed. To access 211, community members can just dial 211 and be connected; or call our direct line at 575-910-0465.

“We strongly encourage the community to do this and request a free ‘Prevention Pack’ from us. Not to mention, keep an eye on our Facebook page (Chaves County Health Council) for upcoming events and the latest information on all topics that we share regularly with residents.

“We also invite the community to join a meeting and consider becoming a part of the CCHC,” Smith said. “All are welcome, as we are a volunteer organization comprised of members who truly care and want to see a healthy, thriving community.”

Meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of every month and the Zoom link to attend can be requested by sending an email to chavescountyhealthcouncil@outlook.com.