Well Connected Communities Washington County
Well Connected Communities is an effort to cultivate wellness across the country. In partnership with National 4-H Council, Washington County is working to remove barriers and create communities where healthy choices are easy and available to all. The Well Connected Communities initiative is supported by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health.
2022 Master Volunteer Academy Graduation
By Bryant Jordan, News Reporter for The Sandersville Progress
On Thursday, July 27, 2022, the Washington County Cooperative Extension Office, and the 4-H held their Well Connected Communities Master Volunteer Academy Graduation for 2022. Dr. Courtney Brown who serves as the Extension Specialist for the 4-H Healthy Living Programs, gave an overview of what the Well Connected Communities, which are currently located in Georgia in Washington, Colquitt, and Calhoun counties, do for both Georgia and the nation. According to the Washington County UGA Extension Office website, “Well Connected Communities is an effort to cultivate wellness across the country. In partnership with National 4-H Council, Washington County is working to remove barriers and create communities where healthy choices are easy and available to all. The Well Connected Communities initiative is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health.” As Brown explained, “we want to make the places where we live, places where it's easier to be healthy.” Brown told the graduates that as you graduate today, and think about what your master volunteer service will be, I hope you will continue thinking about building a culture of health in your community, and how that means working together to improve the health of all in America.” Brown went on to explain that “ultimately, what we're looking for and hoping for is that everyone has access to the care they need and a fair and just opportunity to make healthier choices. That is a tall order, but the only it's going to happen is through master volunteers like you, through people that are committed to serving their communities and taking action.”
In a similar vein, Archway public service professional, Connie Burley described the history of the Archway Partnership, which was “born out of Extension,” and is very focused on economic development, health and quality of life in the state and community. Burley noted that while Extension is in every county, Archway is in only eight communities including Washington County, which was only the second community to get the program. Burley described how Archway has partnered with organizations like the hospital, and is therefore intertwined with Well Connected Communities. Burley concluded by saying that I think Washington County is super blessed to have Extension, to have Well Connected Communities and to have Archway here. We have a lot of things going on in a very positive way that a lot of the communities don't have the resources for, so that’s kind of it in a nutshell.
County Extension Coordinator, Georgeanne Cook, introduced the team members who “have already given 40 hours of their personal time, volunteer time, to come through this training, to learn about their community, and the three of them have projects they would like to see happen here.” These three graduating Master Volunteers included Vickie Lane, who works as the Marketing and Public Relations Manager for Washington County Regional Medical Center, David Daniel, a 2021 graduate of Washington County High school, and Ja’Neshia Butler. Lane presented three possible projects, including a youth partnership with WCRMC that would “expose our students to the different aspects of healthcare careers, creating internships and jobs that would give a one-on-one experience to ignite a passion for quality healthcare, serving their own communities, serving their own neighbors, and their families.” Lane also presented ideas for a gap program to train graduating high school students for the work place, as well as a program to foster healthy lifestyles for young people, starting with their diet, teaching them how to shop for and prepare healthy foods. Daniel presented an idea for a program that would “make daily exercise a choice.” According to Daniel, “exercise can be fun and nontraditional,” especially when “youth-led programs” feature “education and networking, personal mentoring, and new ideas.” Butler presented a PowerPoint program entitled “Training Into Adulthood.” According to Butler this program would include two separate programs, one for preteens, which will teach them about being a teenager, and one for teens that would teach them about being an adult, including how to deal with money and careers. Butler explained that this program would help not only young people, who would gain knowledge, experience, and build self esteem, but also the community at large.
After these presentations, Vickie Lane and Dymear Poole, a First Wave Youth Master Volunteer, discussed the 2022 True Leaders in Equity Institute, which took place from July 11 to July 14, 2022 in Washington DC. As Cook described, “the fact that they got to go and hear what these other communities are doing, I just cannot imagine the inspiration, that was to see what can happen here. So, I hope that next year we get to send a larger group, but we are grateful to send two, and I look forward to seeing where this leads us in the future.” Virginia Pittman, a 2021 WCC Adult Master Volunteer Graduate, then congratulated these three new graduates, “for joining in and being willing to give your time, and your efforts, and your brain power to such a wonderful thing for our community, Congratulations!”
Keri Gandy Hobbs, 4-H Extension Specialist for Volunteer Development for Georgia 4-H and the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension declared that “the future looks bright here in Washington County!” Hobbs and 2021 WCC Youth Master Volunteer Graduate, Alyssa Maze, then awarded certificates of graduation to the three 2022 Master Volunteer Academy Graduates. Other speakers at this event included Alyssa Maze, who gave the welcoming speech, and James Rocky Tanner, Extension ANR Agent for Johnson and Washington County, who offered the Invocation. Lunch was provided by Mama's Cafe at OFTC.