When thinking about our mission - - to improve the quality of life for all New Brunswick residents - - we always start with those we serve, our city residents.
As such, we operate under the belief that those closest to the problem are also those closest to the solution. So, when a community has the opportunity to engage in a process - - one which includes everyone in the discussion - - the resulting action plans belong to the community. Moreover, when residents feel that the plans being actualized are theirs, they will work hard to see them carried out.
This isn’t rocket science, or some super innovative approach, but many times it is overlooked in our sector because it operates counter to our work culture - - often times requiring late nights and weekend hours for true community engagement. Because of this, we have set a course to operationalize a community action strategy to achieve equitable and just solutions, by, and through, a resident-led outreach team. NBT will act as the glue for collaborations across issue areas to drive meaningful interventions.
At NBT, our grass-root methods are always resident-led, mainly through our Community HealthAmbassadors, also known as CHAs. And, since 2014, we’ve employed CHA’s as our front line workers in the community. Back then, our focus was limited to addressing the prevalent number of families reporting Diabetes in the household. The health disparities affected by this seemed innumerable, and so we went on a neighborhood campaign, in partnership with our local hospital,Saint Peter’s University Hospital, to connect families to needed services, resources, self care programs, group supports, and more. This effort was so successful that the model has since grown to focus on health and the social determinants that impact people outside the medical room, serving as counterparts to doctors and nurses that provide direct health services.
These Outreach Workers have been trained to navigate many different systems; including, the local hospitals and clinics, housing rental and mitigation services, and a variety of legal supports, linking families to community services that help them get through some of the toughest issues our residents face. However, more importantly than the knowledge they’ve acquired is the trust they’ve built among their peer residents. CHAs are a trusted resource in the city for many who call New Brunswick home.
Equally, they offer keen insight, to us (at NBT) and other community-based partners, into the prevailing concerns and needs experienced by residents, families, and children.This feedback loop, thus, assists in identifying prevalent issues, while also helping to direct our investments into programs and services that are necessary and effective. We saw this during the pandemic, the CHAs were (and still are) a critical lifeline for this community - - helping define emergency response services and connecting individuals to resources like food assistance, eviction prevention assistance, and other interventions, while also providing information on how to access needed health services, like COVID prevention, testing, and vaccinations.
New Brunswick Tomorrow is currently recruiting for Community Outreach Ambassadors. If you are interested in applying, you can view the job description and application in English and Spanish. Help us continue our community outreach work by sharing this opportunity.