“If we stay together, there is nothing we cannot do,” said Tom Watkins, President and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority, summing up his comments at last Thursday’s Interfaith Health and Hope Coalition (IHHC) event.
This is the ideal that Is embodied in the IHHC’s mission to network across the faith community and the health care industry, bringing faith based organizations, health systems, health organizations and individuals together to close the gaps between those in need and the resources that will help.
“We call it gap analysis,” says Ron Beford, IHHC Executive Director. The IHHC “tries to identify and fill gaps to meet people’s need, particularly as it pertains to health and health care.”
The IHHC began as a group of faith leaders gathering monthly to discuss issues faced by their communities, including access to healthcare, affordability, awareness and education.
Through outreach to the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority, the group was asked to organize presentations on faith based initiatives for the 2003 Cover the Uninsured Week sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Incorporating as a non-profit in 2007, the IHHC began to create Faith-Based Care Circles to address the needs of the uninsured and the underserved. The Care Circles are geographically based groups of faith and health care organizations that connect to share information and resources.
The Care Circles serve as “a liaison between those in need and those who can meet that need,” says Beford. “We try to be a gatherer of information and try to disseminate it to all who might benefit. It’s a way that faith-based groups and individuals can serve the community.”
These networks are able to create solutions such as distributing durable medical goods from someone who no longer needs them to someone who does, or providing for a specific need. “It could be diapers,” says Beford. “There’s a lady that does diapers. It really brings it down to a more local level.”
To participate in the IHHC’s support, networking, education, and advocacy efforts, contact Ron Beford at firstname.lastname@example.org.