Highland Avenue Block Party was a big hit for the community

The Highland Avenue Block Party brought together many agencies that serve the community.

Highland Avenue Block Party was a big hit for the community
October 30
13:40 2019

What started off as a small venture, wound up being more than anyone could have expected. With less than two months to pull it off, the dedicated team of organizers put together the Highland Avenue Block Party.

The block party involved many collaborators such as the Highland Avenue Primary Care Clinic (HAPCC), Forsyth County Public Heath Department, Forsyth County Department of Social Services, UnitedHealthcare, First Baptist Church, Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity (MCWSV), among others.

The purpose for the block party was to enroll or re-enroll individuals for Medicaid, offer flu shots, mammograms, health screenings, WIC applications, voter registration and much more. There was also food provided for the community and activities for children.

Rev. Anthony Jones, senior pastor of United Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church, member of the MCWSV and key contributor to the block party, said he set out to have something different than your traditional health fair.

“I wanted to be a part of something that was more impactful, more comprehensive and frankly, something that could really impact the particular audience we were targeting for the event,” said Jones. “I get tired of doing community days and health days all because they are mandated events and all they do is mask and cover the problem. I didn’t want to be a part of that, I wanted to be a part of something that instead of covering the wound, but actually dealt with the wound.”

According to Jones, a mutual colleague connected him with Michelle James of Novant Health and HAPCC and he expressed his frustrations with the typical health days because they really only create awareness. She in turn spoke to Jones about the issues of individuals not knowing they qualify for Medicaid. Once the two saw they had a common goal, the plan was put into motion.

James was working with the Department of Social Services to connect more people to the Medicaid system as well as getting the word out about the clinic, so she felt this was the perfect event to do both.

Jones and James then reached out to Victor Isler, director of the Department of Social Services, and Denise Price, assistant director of the Health Department, to give the community as much information about Medicaid and other venders as possible.

“We just thought what other resources are out there in the community,” she said. “If we are going to have this sort of day, then we need to make it as great as it could be. It just evolved into what you see here today.”

First Baptist Church was also brought into the mix, because they have an annual health fair in the month of November, along with giving out free winter clothes to the less fortunate. When senior pastor Paul Robeson Ford heard about the block party, he immediately jumped on board.  

Isler stated he wanted the Dept. of Social Services to be a part of the event due to the Medicaid deadline quickly approaching.

“Being that we enroll over 64,000 participants in Medicaid here in Forsyth County, we wanted to come together as a community to make sure everyone is well informed and actually create an opportunity for us to do it in a comfortable and convenient way,” said Isler.  

Alana James, Wake Forest Baptist, was the colleague that connected Jones and James. She was pleased with the large turnout from the community and can’t wait to collaborate with organizers to figure out what worked and what didn’t work and to start making plans for next year.

“It was overwhelming in the best sense,” said Alana James about the preparation of the block party. “We were overwhelmed with the amount of support for the idea, we were overwhelmed with the amount of community support we got, certainly with First Baptist Church who joined forces with us, and I can’t thank them enough.”

The organizers say they can’t wait to begin preparations for the next event. With the short time frame they had to put the event together, they were pleased with how everything played out.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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