What’s the difference between growing up in an at-risk neighborhood in Chicago or in one of the richer collar counties of Chicago? What’s the difference in growing up in Peoria versus a small town in southern Illinois?
“I think it comes down to all of us working together as a community… businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals, to make sure everyone has access to necessities like healthy meals, safe housing, education and healthcare. Central Illinois is special as there are so many who are committed to ensuring that access is available to all.”
—Mark Spenny, President/CEO, CEFCU
“A community is healthy when it is able to provide for itself with little outside help. From an economic perspective, that means a community that is sustainable and has a growing economy—where people have sufficient income to live a full life, businesses are successful, and new opportunities emerge.”
—Chris Setti, Executive Director, Economic Development Council
What Makes a Healthy Community?
Of course there are differences of population size and geography, but the most important differences are the social, cultural, economic and healthcare factors that come together to build the well-being of an area.
All of those features affect how one sees the world. Is it a hopeful place? Is it a safe place? Is it a friendly, welcoming place? Is it a good place to learn? Is it attractive? Does the community rally around when bad luck hits or something goes wrong?
“Over the years I’ve learned that ‘conscious neighbors’ and transparent leadership make the healthiest communities. Having people who care about the growth and the direction of your community is priceless. We‘re all so much stronger when everybody gets engaged. There’s nothing like people power. And having leaders who make it their business to be open and accessible fosters trust and encourages participation.”
—Rep. Jehan Gordon Booth
“Everyone in our community deserves a chance to feel that sense of belonging and that their version of a healthy, happy life has an opportunity to be realized. That’s how this is all supposed to work; we reach out to one another, work together and do what’s right by our neighbor so that we are all better for it.”
—Maggie Misselhorn, Executive Creative Director, Simantel
“There are many factors that make for a healthy community, including thriving schools, solid churches and a strong support structure. Additionally, individuals who are invested in their community and participate where there are needs and opportunities are great predictors of success.”
—David Zimmerman, Chairman, Tazewell County Board
Building a Healthy Normal
Research shows that a person’s world outlook is established by the age of 10. When those questions asked above get answered, it says to a child: “This is what the world looks like.” So if a child grows up in a crime-ridden, dilapidated, dead-end world, that’s what “normal” is. If a child grows up in a healthy community, then that is “normal.”
Which child gets the head start in life? Which child gets the “right” message about expected behavior and success? Which community is healthier for a person’s development?
“A healthy community is a community that has sustained physical, mental and social well-being. A healthy community enables people to achieve and sustain a high quality of healthy living, and moreover, a productive lifestyle. Human services play a huge role in the healthy well-being of our community by integrating social, economic and environmental goals that benefit and strengthen the whole community.”
—Jamie Harwood, Peoria County Coroner
“What truly makes a healthy community is both accessible and affordable healthcare that benefits every part of the community. Human services play a vital role in helping poorer communities achieve a healthy standard of living that allows them to grow... The State has a compelling interest to fund these programs now and not pass the buck to the next generation.”
—Illinois Sen. Dave Koehler
When some people make counterproductive choices or run into bad luck, it’s easy to judge them as bad, broken, lacking in character or deficient in some way. But clearly, environmental factors have an effect and need to be considered when the community steps in to help.
“A healthy community is a place where everyone has access to the basic elements necessary to live a good life. These would include quality education; healthcare; job opportunities; decent housing; safety at home, work and school; and cultural enrichment opportunities. Human services help fill in the gaps where these elements are lacking, and help move us toward the goal of being a truly healthy community.”
—Rev. Michael Brown, Universalist Unitarian Church, Interfaith Alliance of Central Illinois
“There are many features that make a community healthy: safe neighborhoods, access to fresh foods, healthy choices at restaurants, plenty of green space for hiking/bicycling and other activities, enough living-wage jobs, excellent access to primary and preventative healthcare, access to behavioral healthcare, substance abuse treatment, and a strong public health system.”
—Gregg Stoner, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Heartland Health Services
Our Power as People
Everyone who lives in the Greater Peoria area can contribute to building the healthiest community possible so that all children who grow up here feels safe, hopeful and positive—and that as adults, they can have their social, cultural, spiritual and educational needs met.
“Giving—the generosity of people, whether with time or talents or financially—is what makes Peoria a healthy community. I truly believe the way people here give back, no matter the circumstances, is remarkable and unmatched. Organizations like Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters help shape our future generation to understand the great responsibility they have to contribute to their community in the same ways.”
—Maria Chandler Chambers, Communications Coordinator, OSF HealthCare
“We have excellent institutions in our community, but in the end it is the power we have as individuals that will make our area great. We have to ask ourselves this simple question. How can I use my unique skills to impact the greatest need of my community?”
—Illinois Sen. Chuck Weaver
A healthy community also means there are prevention and intervention strategies in place to help people weather any storms that may come their way. The well-being of the community should result in everyone having the opportunity to reach their full potential—whether they be a child, an adult with disabilities, a business person, a stay-at-home parent, an artist, a medical provider, a tradesperson or any other category of persons.
“I've always been impressed with the way Peoria volunteers step up to meet the needs of our community. Peoria volunteers, working with our collection of strong service agencies, are making a lasting impact on the lives of so many.”
—Pat Ferrell, AVP, Internal Audit Services, RLI Corp.
"I appreciate the work that is being done through the various health and human services agencies. I would love to see a collaborative community effort that encourages our community to exercise, because we know that exercise—like walking, running or biking—contributes to good health, which then lends itself to more positive attitudes and behaviors."
—Pastor Deveraux Hubbard, St. Paul Baptist Church
A Solid Foundation
The members of the Human Services Collaborative stand ready to do our part, to uphold our missions and to positively impact the people of our community.
“Human service organizations are part of the foundation of healthy community. We help ensure that all members of the community have access to the resources necessary for each to reach their full potential. During the past few years of State of Illinois fiscal instability, the resilience and effectiveness of these organizations is outstanding. They help build the quality of life that we have come to expect in central Illinois.”
—Jim Runyon, President, Human Service Collaborative
For more information, visit humanservicescollaborative.com. iBi