Verdant Healthier Community Conference

Verdant honors 3 programs, 1 individual for dedication to community health

The Verdant Health Commission issued four awards to community members and organizations at the Verdant Healthier Community Conference on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 in Lynnwood.

The awards are:

  • Outstanding Community Advocate Award: Peter Hallson, Edmonds Bicycle Advocacy Group
  • Innovative Program Award: Community Health Center of Snohomish County for its initiative to certify all providers in Medication-Assisted Treatment Program
  • Service to Our Community Award: Neighbors in Need
  • Community Collaboration Award: Whole Families, Whole Communities program of the Foundation for Edmonds School District

Verdant Superintendent Dr. Robin Fenn presented the awards with Verdant commissioners Dr. Jim Distelhorst, Bob Knowles, and Fred Langer. She shared that those honored were deserving because of their selfless dedication to others’ well-being, among many other attributes.

“We come together annually to celebrate the many strengths of our community and recognize these outstanding examples of service to others,” Fenn said. “One reason South Snohomish County is special is because of the care and compassion shown by so many, and it is a privilege to recognize these leaders in their fields.”


Outstanding Community Advocate Award

Edmonds resident Peter Hallson is a staunch advocate for bicycling and improving access to safe, active forms of transportation in our community, Fenn said. He was a leader in bringing the Let’s Go riding education program to the Edmonds School District several years ago in partnership with Cascade Bicycle Club in an effort to increase both the safety and knowledge of young riders. He often meets with policymakers locally and in Olympia to engage in discussions about the need for safe transportation.

This award was created to recognize individuals who work in support of others to address a health need in our community. The honorees over the years have worked to highlight positive change, Fenn said, and Hallson’s enthusiastic desire to improve his community shows in his advocacy work and civic engagement.

Innovative Program Award

At Community Health Center of Snohomish County (CHC), they recognized the growing need to address the opioid epidemic facing our community. CHC has worked to ensure that each medical provider be certified in the Medication-Assisted Treatment Program, and it is this initiative that earned them the Innovative Program Award, which is given annually to organizations that bring new and creative ideas to health programming, trying something different in an effort to impact health in ways they have not attempted before.

Opioid overdoses are now the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50, and fortunately there are ways to support this growing issue, Fenn said. While the ability to prescribe Suboxone (a medication used to treat individuals with opioid dependence) is highly regulated, it improves remission rates and reduces medical complications and overdose deaths. CHC is a leader in the primary care field for working to ensure improved access to this form of treatment, Fenn said. In addition to its direct patient work, CHC is also working to reduce the stigma surrounding opioid use disorders, speaking with groups and promoting the program in general in the community.

Service to Our Community Award

Neighbors in Need is the winner of the service award, which goes to individuals or organizations who go above and beyond in service to others, working to support the health and well-being of other people and/or organizations in our community. The award was accepted by Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Hector Garfias-Toledo, who was joined by Neighbors in Need board members Sharon Bloch, John Boone, Paula Brooks, Chris Frizzell, and Joan Jolly.

You can expect to find dozens of volunteers coming together to support homeless and housing insecure individuals and families in South Snohomish County at Neighbors in Need’s Saturday morning program. Someone can find a hot breakfast, a 3-day supply of food, toiletries, used clothing, showers, laundry services, social service supports, and a caring person for conversation at the Listening Table. The tireless work done to support these vulnerable individuals in our community is what true compassion and service represents, and Verdant is proud to recognize the important work done at Neighbors in Need, Fenn said.

Community Collaboration Award

The Whole Families, Whole Communities program of the Foundation for Edmonds School District is the recipient of the collaboration award, given to organizations that partner with others to be responsive to our community’s health and wellness needs. Winners of this award recognize that more can be accomplished by working with others, creating unique partnerships that make their work more effective and efficient.

Since 2018, this program has been in place to make it easier for families in the Edmonds School District experiencing poverty or housing insecurity to access a robust suite of community resources. This collaborative program includes the Foundation, the Edmonds School District, Edmonds Community College, the University of Washington Bothell School of Nursing and Health Studies, Latino Education Training Institute, North Sound Church, Edmonds Family Medicine, HomeStreet Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and Nourishing Network.

When school staff encounters a family struggling to meet a basic need, they can connect with Whole Families, Whole Communities to line up coordinated support desired by the family. Past examples have included partnering with a repair shop to fix a high school student’s bike that he depended upon to get to school and around town, and with organizations providing financial literacy or job training skills to help create stability for the family unit.

This example of collaboration shows that building community often comes down to trust, Fenn said, noting that when we work together, we can accomplish so much more.

The Verdant Healthier Community Conference drew approximately 200 people, representing healthcare, social services, and community providers who support community health. This 4th-annual event is brought to South Snohomish County by the Verdant Health Commission, with support from: Kaiser Permanente, Premera Blue Cross, Coordinated Care, Edmonds Community College, Amerigroup, Community Health Plan of Washington, Community Transit, Foster Pepper, The Herald Media, Molina Healthcare, Puget Sound Kidney Centers, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Swedish Edmonds, and the University of Washington Bothell’s School of Nursing and Health Studies.