Thursday, July 1


An unseen power behind the community

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[JULY 1, 2004]  Logan County: rich farmland, clean small towns, good schools, people with a vision for their future. Residents have one more thing going for them that isn't quite as obvious. It isn't something that's visible. It is more felt. In all likelihood you, or your kids, or your parents or your neighbors have felt it but didn't know what was behind it.

That unseen power is the Healthy Communities Partnership. HCP is a structured collaboration of community leaders pooling their resources. Through HCP, needs of the community are targeted and then task forces developed. For several years now these task forces have been providing information, services and assistance, activities, and programs that reach every age group throughout the county.

HCP's new director, Kristi Lessen, along with Lincoln Mayor Beth Davis and county board Chairman Dale Voyles, welcomed a crowd that gathered last Thursday for a six-month update from seven HCP task forces.

In addition to the updates, the group heard about the Safe Haven Law from Sue Berker of Save Abandoned Babies Foundation. Illinois law provides that a person or their parent can anonymously leave a newborn with a person at a fire station or emergency medical facility.

For further information on where to take a newborn and on the Abandoned Newborn Infant Protection Act in Illinois, visit

The basic goal of the Healthy Communities Partnership is to improve the quality of life for residents in Logan County, using government and private agency resources. Task forces work independently and interactively to address community issues. The following representatives gave updates on task force activities:

Task Force on Governance and Funding

  • Marty Ahrends, Abraham Lincoln Healthcare Foundation

Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Task Force

  • Chief Rich Montcalm, Lincoln Police Department

  • Patrick O'Neill, Logan County Board

Domestic Abuse and Violence Task Force

  • Raleigh Blasdell, Sojourn advocate

  • Darrell Sisk, Regional Office of Education

Healthy Families Task Force

  • Cathy Huerd, Lincoln Parents Center

  • Louella Moreland, Lincoln Public Library

Senior Issues Task Force

  • Margie Harris, Logan County Health Department

  • Betty Larson, Logan County Health Department

Parish Nurse Task Force

  • Judy Horn, R.N., Lincoln Christian Church

  • Sue Estes, R.N., Jefferson Street Christian Church

Rural Health Partnership Task Force

  • Sandy Brummet, R.N., C.F.N.P., Family Medical Center

  • Pam Clark, R.N., Logan County Health Department

  • Ruth Freeman, R.N., Logan County Health Department

  • Debbie Hoover, R.N., Logan County Health Department

  • Mark Hilliard, administrator, Logan County Health Department


The ATOD group strives to reduce alcohol, tobacco and drug use by youth. Efforts target reducing under-age-18 access to tobacco, under-age-21 access to alcohol and access by all ages to all drugs.

Health lifestyles are promoted by education and alternative activities. Free bowling, open activities and fun at the park district were recent events.

* * *

The Domestic Abuse and Violence Task Force provides prevention education and intervention programs. A total of 47 emergency orders of protection and 16 plenary (complete, no contact) orders of protection were issued in Logan County for the last six months. Five clients returned plenary orders of protection.

This task force looks for and provides community resources to families as needed. Members collect local incidence data and study factors contributing to abuse within the community.

Additionally, the task force will facilitate intervention between judiciary and law enforcement systems and families in need of this intervention.

* * *

A third group, called Healthy Families, seeks to strengthen the health and well-being of families. Members attempt to reduce teen pregnancy and promote positive parenting through education. They also have developed and support family-centered community activities, such as the fall family fun day, which features free food, games and music in the park.

Review of the past six months (accomplishments, plans):

  • New Parent Bags -- Distributed 100 bags of parent resources and baby items to Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital Obstetrics Department.

  • "Baby Think It Over" -- Purchased equipment and supplies for the program.

  • Teen Parent Educator program -- Provided monthly personal visits; provided child development information and parent support.

  • Teen Parenting Services program -- Provided various resources for clients to use while earning their education.

  • Teen Parent Club -- Supported this club at Lincoln Community High School.

  • Logan County Resource List for Families -- Updated list. The resource list is placed in all the new parent resource bags given to the hospital.

  • After-prom activities -- Supported post-prom activities for the high schools in Mount Pulaski and Hartsburg-Emden.

  • Mentoring -- Supported the mentoring program through Lincoln Christian College and YMCA.

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  • Workshop -- Supplied needed materials for a workshop presented during PARTY. The workshop centered on the theme of abstinence. Approximately 140-160 seventh-grade students attended.

  • Community education -- Provided information to local officials and organizations about the Safe Haven Law and Save Abandoned Babies Foundation.

The Baby Think It Over program was run for the eighth grade at Chester-East Lincoln, seventh and eighth grades at Hartsburg-Emden, and ninth-grade students at Lincoln Community High School. Students learn a bit about the realities of caring for an infant by using computer programmed baby dolls in this program.

The newly formed Teen Parent Club at the high school met five times with an average attendance of seven.

* * *

On the other end of the age spectrum is care of our senior citizens. The Senior Issues Task Force continuously looks for gaps in services and their delivery and promotes services through education. Their latest programs are an Alzheimer's support group and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.

This task force has seen to it that 15 homebound seniors received weekend meals and provides services and information at fairs.

* * *

One of the newer task forces identifies and enlists nurses from churches. The parish nurse is a valuable health awareness person bridging the gap between church and community resources.

* * *

Through the Rural Health Partnership Task Force, additional ATOD and peer resistance preventative programs were taken to schools.

Seventh-grade students' test-measured knowledge of peer resistance was improved from 14 percent to 57 percent at Chester-East Lincoln, Hartsburg-Emden, Lincoln Junior High, New Holland-Middletown, Elkhart and Mount Pulaski Grade School.

Eighth-grade students' test-measured knowledge of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs was improved from 6 percent to 53 percent at Hartsburg-Emden, Lincoln Junior High, New Holland-Middletown, Elkhart and Mount Pulaski Grade School.

This task force also works at preventative and primary health care needs. They operate a mobile unit that offers screenings, blood work, checkups and vaccinations, but the most common service is blood pressure screening. The mobile unit goes to Atlanta, Beason, Broadwell, Chestnut, Elkhart, Emden, Greenview, Hartsburg, Latham, Middletown, Mount Pulaski, New Holland, San Jose and Friendship Manor. The unit logged 1,428 appointments in the last six months.

* * *

The task forces are composed mostly of professionals from related fields or community leaders. It is the sustained commitment and integrated resources that make HCP task forces especially effective. The scope of HCP will continue to expand as future task forces are added. That decision will be made as need is identified and viability for success is determined.

HCP vision statement:

The Healthy Communities Partnership will strive to:

--Create a community which actively works to improve the health and quality of life of all its residents. A community in which the definition of health goes beyond the absence of disease and the traditional medical concept and addresses the underlying factors in health and quality of life, such as the environment, crime and lifestyle.

--Create a community in which all residents have the opportunity to:

  • Access and receive high-quality affordable medical care.

  • Exercise preventive health practices.

  • Drink clean water.

  • Live in adequate housing.

  • Learn to the extent of their capacity and desire.

  • Experience artistic stimuli.

  • Worship in the religion of their choosing.

  • Find rewarding recreational activities.

  • Work in a safe environment.

  • Be safe from bodily harm.

--Achieve our vision through collaborative partnerships including a myriad of "forces," such as, but not limited to, area governmental agencies, educational institutions, arts organizations, health care providers, criminal justice agencies, chambers of commerce, insurance providers, employers, religious organizations and the media.

[Jan Youngquist]

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