The desire to live healthier, happier lives is one that spans every corner of the globe, regardless of age, gender, or economic status. And with chronic disease on the rise, preventative measures are being given much more focus as we try to head health-related issues off at the pass, coming together as a society to build strong, thriving communities where wellness is encouraged as a natural way of life.
Since being established in 2006 after the sale of Gateway Hospital led to the dissolution of the Gateway Foundation, the Clarksville-Montgomery County Community Health Foundation, Inc., has been working tirelessly to support community-wide health initiatives throughout the city of Clarksville as well as Montgomery County and the five surrounding counties of northern Middle Tennessee, in addition to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. “We’re directing our efforts to finding ways of promoting knowledge and behavioral changes in our residents that will ultimately lead to a healthier community,” says Grant Coordinator Sarah Schwartz, who takes on the monumental task of reviewing and researching grant proposals that have been sent to the CHF Grant Review Committee. “As a committee whose ultimate purpose lies in awarding funds to projects that focus on health and provide measurable outcomes for improving the quality of life for our citizens, one of the biggest challenges we face as we consider each grant request is determining where the money will make the biggest impact,” Schwartz continues. “Challenge aside, however, we definitely consider it a great point of pride to be able to come together as a focused committee that’s making measurable strides in bettering our community and influencing other communities that can see the success we’re having in accomplishing that goal.”
Consisting of 13 members including county and city mayors, the CHF unites to plan and implement ways of improving county health rankings in the state, working steadily to raise those rankings as improvements are made in areas that may be lacking. Taking a deeper look at the various veins feeding into the heart of the community’s health, the members of the CHF assesses components such as lifestyle behaviors and healthcare, evaluating everything from tobacco, alcohol, and drug use to exercise and the availability of quality healthcare.
Finding those areas of weakness naturally sheds light on the need to remedy the situation, and so grants come into play. “The CHF is a local solution that identifies gaps and has awarded funding for dozens of projects that improve health in our community,” says CHF board member and Grant Committee head Joey Smith. “Over the years, we’ve seen great changes come about from the grants we’ve awarded, and that’s something that keeps us motivated to continue on in this mission.”
“One important aspect of what we do as a Foundation is to focus on funding projects whose outcomes are quantifiable and provide clear evidence that the programs are making a difference in people’s lives,” adds Schwartz. “We don’t want to randomly throw thousands of dollars to vague causes that might somehow touch health in a roundabout way. We want to make sure the funds we gift actually help the health of our community.”
Having awarded over $7.45 million dollars since its inception, CHF could well be considered to be putting the greater Clarksville-Montgomery County area on the path to becoming a happier, healthier place to live—and that’s certainly something to take heart in.
Clarksville Montgomery County Community Health Foundation is located at 120 South 2nd Street, Suite 201, Clarksville, Tennessee 37040. For more information on programs and details on grant proposal guidelines, call (931) 896-2744 or visit www.communityhealthfoundation.org.