Today was just one of those days I had to smile. One of the core reasons I began writing this blog is to share the connection I see between agriculture and health while in my full-time work for Nemours Health & Prevention Services (NHPS). While promoting children’s health in Kent County, I have utilized many of my previous connections with partners and businesses within the area. I have also been fortunate to embrace new ones along the way. I smiled today because I witnessed all of these connections come together. Let me explain.
The previous long time connection is with my neighbor and colleague, Dave Marvel. He and his family grow field crops and watermelon near me, just west of Harrington. He is also the President of the Fruit & Vegetables Growers Association of Delaware (FVGAD) but the true passion I share with him is the DE Farm to School program. Dave initiated this program in the Woodbridge School District (with help from others) and is currently serving as co-chair of the DE Farm to School Advisory Board (we just spent all day Tuesday working on by-laws for the board). Furthermore, he was recently asked to serve on the National Farm to School Network Advisory Board .
The new colleague I met this past winter is Charita Olabiyi and the Outreach Manager for the Dover branch of Westside Family Healthcare. I remember calling Charita and asking her if she wanted to go to lunch one day. I asked where she preferred and she said “the sale”. She said, “Do you know what “the sale” means?” and I said, “Of course-it means Spence’s Bizarre and I love to go there”! We hit off and I soon learned that she has invaluable experience as a community health worker, including with the migrant farm laborers in Delaware. Working with this population has sparked her interest in agriculture and she asked me to share with her ag related events in Delaware. Since it was winter, I invited her to DE Ag Week this past January. And the rest is history, as I connected her with Dave and the networking began.
Since then, a new advisory board for migrant farm workers in DE has formed, which Dave and Charita are serving on together (along with others). Along with today’s launch of Westside’s new mobile health unit, which is a customized motor home with all the medical equipment needed for primary care. It’s a doctor’s office on wheels and it will travel to the migrant farm workers of Kent & Sussex counties this summer. See this related article from the Delmarva Farmer for more info. Today was the ribbon cutting for the brand new mobile unit and, of course, both Charita and Dave were in audience. It was no surprise to me when both were recognized, since I know the great work these individuals do everyday. I had to smile, just thinking about the endless strides these two can make for both agriculture and healthcare in Delaware.
*** See below for more info on Westside’s services and it’s campaign in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program. This video is awesome!