East Texas Human Needs Network

Location: Anderson County, Cherokee County, Rusk County
Amount: $125,000

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Grant to develop cross-sector coalitions in Anderson, Cherokee and Rusk Counties to assess, plan and implement strategies that transform communities to support health and well-being.

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Addressing Health From All Angles

Linda is a certified nurse assistant at Piney Woods Nursing Home in Tyler. She battles type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Linda has worked in nursing homes for 22 years, but she doesn’t have health insurance.

Linda is what poverty looks like in Smith County. And she’s not alone.

“The pain comes behind closed doors,” said Christina Fulsom, founder of the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN). “Often we’re surrounded by people who live in poverty and we don’t recognize it.”

ETHNN is a backbone organization supporting a collaboration of diverse groups working to strengthen programs and services for those in need in Smith County. One of ETHNN’s first efforts was to determine the social and health needs of the community.

Some of the results were clear – people in the community didn’t understand the issues of poverty in East Texas and didn’t fully recognize the dramatic impact poverty has on health.

ETHNN’s team interviewed Linda and more than 500 other people living in poverty in Smith County. They use the information to educate others about the complex puzzle that contributes to families living in need –limited access to healthcare, employment issues, transportation barriers, lack of education, and limited affordable housing.

“We can’t address the problem with one service provider alone,” Fulsom said. “But together, we can.”

In 2016, EHF’s $308,863 grant to ETHNN is helping strengthen the ability of the organization to support community-wide initiatives and hire additional staff. EHF’s support is also helping coordinate ETHNN’s efforts to specifically address the seemingly stubborn problems related to poverty – including poor health outcomes.

“ETHNN is helping improve health from all angles,” Jo Carcedo, EHF’s VP for grants. “It works with member groups to coordinate comprehensive, community-based primary care for those most in need. ETHNN is helping to expand the use of community heath workers in rural areas and addressing transportation issues that prevent people from accessing health services. It really is an effort to address all pieces of the puzzle.”

Working with more than 50 organizations, ETHNN also makes sure that people like Linda have a voice in their community. It’s an important part of a long-lasting effort to not just help people “get by”, but a mission to get people out of poverty for good.

To learn more, visit ETHNN.org.