Here at Greater Bergen Community Action, we've spent decades serving our community, offering a hand up to those struggling with poverty, hunger, and lack of opportunity. We've provided nutritious food, emergency assistance, and educational programs, all crucial lifelines in times of need. But as we stand at the threshold of 2024, we're embarking on a shift – a deeper dive into the very roots of these challenges.
This year, our focus sharpens to the social determinants of health. It's not enough to simply offer a band-aid to a chronic illness when the root cause lies in a leaky roof, an empty fridge, or the crushing weight of social isolation. We're shifting our gaze from the symptoms to the soil that nourishes or starves well-being within our community.
Why this shift? Because the numbers paint a stark picture. In Bergen County, the lines of poverty and poor health are intricately intertwined. Low-income families face higher rates of chronic diseases, limited access to quality healthcare, and shorter lifespans. These aren't mere statistics; they are the lived experiences of our neighbors, friends, and families.
Imagine a child's asthma flaring up in a moldy apartment, a senior citizen struggling to afford nutritious food on a fixed income, or a single mother juggling jobs with no access to healthcare. These aren't just individual situations; they're symptoms of a larger systemic issue – the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities that impact health at its core.
So, in 2024, Greater Bergen Community Action is going beyond the band-aid approach. We're focusing on:
Advocating for policies that address affordable housing, food security, and educational equity – the building blocks of healthy communities.
Investing in our programs, so that we can provide more comprehensive services to our clients.
Championing access to quality healthcare that recognizes the social factors influencing well-being, not just physical ailments through our partnerships.
Empowering individuals and communities to become active participants in shaping their own health destinies.
This is not a quick fix, nor a solo mission. It demands collaboration, innovation, and a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths. We must move beyond treating health as an individual responsibility and recognize it as a collective responsibility, woven into the fabric of our society.
Join us throughout 2024 as we will delve into the roots, nurturing the soil of social justice and equity. We will be sharing with you how our programs, services and collaborations are changing life circumstances for thousands in Northern NJ.
Together, we can build a Bergen County where health is not a privilege, but a right, accessible to all, regardless of zip code or circumstance.
Let's make 2024 the year we rewrite the story of health, from the roots up.
For more information about Unity Health Partnership, visit www.UnityHealthNJ.org