NACCHO, in partnership with the Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, has selected 29 Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units to receive MRC Challenge Awards, totaling nearly $600,000. The MRC Challenge Award supports MRC units to develop new projects and programs that can be replicated on a national level. Nearly 200 MRC units from across the United States applied for the award and the top 29 most promising applicants were selected to receive the award.
The awards will fund projects that benefit local communities in one of four focus areas: chronic disease prevention, community resilience, mental and emotional health and well-being, and partners for empowered communities. These areas are aligned with national health initiatives, including the Surgeon General’s National Prevention Strategy and strategic plans of NACCHO’s partner organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Million Hearts Campaign. Projects will begin in early 2014.
Since 2006, NACCHO has worked with the Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps through a cooperative agreement to support MRC activities, including providing funding to MRC units through Capacity Building Awards. This is the first year that the Challenge Award was offered to MRC units. Selected projects represent a wide range of public health activities such as obesity prevention, post-traumatic stress monitoring, and early interventions in domestic violence. Many of the projects focus on improving preparedness in the MRC units’ communities, including the following:
- New Orleans MRC (New Orleans, LA): The initiative aims to close the gap in communication with at-risk populations about their responsibilities and options preparing for and responding to emergencies by reaching out to local agencies that work with senior citizens, pregnant women, non-English speakers and people with medical, mobility, vision, or hearing needs. The New Orleans MRC, New Orleans Health Department, New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, American Red Cross, and Evacuateers will partner to design consistent outreach materials, messages, and strategies appropriate for each population, which will include easy-to-read materials in English, braille, Spanish, Vietnamese, and community presentations.
- Kansas State Animal Response Team Veterinary MRC (Wichita, KS): The Kansas State Animal Response Team Veterinary MRC will teach Kansans how to include their pets in disaster preparedness planning and understand what animal response teams offer pets during disaster response. The MRC will address these issues through the first state-initiated education program. Animal response teams, first responders, and the community will also be included in the program to learn what they can do together to manage pet needs as a part of the master disaster preparedness and response plan for Kansas.
- Macomb County Health Department MRC (Mt. Clemens, MI): The initiative will teach fifth graders how to involve their parents/guardians in emergency preparedness activities for their homes. The Macomb County Health Department and Macomb County Health Department MRC will partner with the Macomb Intermediate School District and Health Occupation Students of America to begin presenting emergency preparedness lessons in fifth grade classrooms throughout Macomb County. These lessons will increase preparedness of students and families and increase overall community resiliency.
The full list of Challenge awardees and their projects follows:
- Adams County MRC, Quincy, IL; 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! – Community Partnership to Reduce Obesity and Chronic Disease
- Albuquerque-University of New Mexico MRC, Albuquerque, NM; Public Health Action Curriculum for Teens
- Arizona EMDR Trauma Response Network MRC, Scottsdale, AZ; Enhance Mental Health Response to PTSD and Other Psychological Injuries
- Ashland County-City MRC, Ashland, OH; You Can’t Stand Up Alone
- Black Belt MRC, Tuskegee, AL; Resilience For All: Macon County
- Brookline Department of Health MRC, Brookline, MA; Brookline Youth Wellness Project
- Burlington County MRC, Westampton, NJ; MRC as Partners in Prevention
- Campbell County MRC, Gillette, WY; Mind Your Community!
- Central Georgia MRC, Macon, GA; Standing Down for our Veterans: Operation Get Healthy!
- Chicago Familia Latina Unida MRC, Chicago, IL; Youth Health Service Corp
- Colorado Muslim Society MRC; Denver, CO; Eliminating Health Disparities within Colorado Muslim Community
- Fort Bend County MRC, Alvin, TX; Let’s Get Physical!
- Greater Taunton MRC, Taunton, MA; Psychological First Aid for Families Experiencing Homelessness
- Kansas State Animal Response Team Veterinary MRC, Wichita, KS; My PET Plan: Pets Evacuate Too!
- Macomb County Health Department MRC, Mount Clemens, MI; Youth Emergency Preparedness Outreach Initiative
- Maryland Responds MRC, Baltimore, MD; Creative Partnerships for a Prepared and Resilient Maryland
- Minnesota Behavioral Health MRC, St. Paul, MN; Psychological First Aid for Youth
- Mississippi Gulf Coast MRC, Gulfport, MS; He Hits You Because He Likes You: Early Intervention for Unhealthy Relationships in Grade School
- New Orleans MRC, New Orleans, LA; Preparing At-Risk Populations for Emergencies
- Niagara County MRC, Niagara Falls, NY; Energizing Partnerships to Advance Support Networks for Breastfeeding Mothers
- Norfolk County 7 MRC, Needham, MA; Clearing the Air: Empowering Nail Salon Owners and Workers for Better Health
- NW Missouri MRC, St. Joseph, MO; MRC: Educating Individuals, Encouraging Positive Mental Health Outcomes
- Rhode Island MRC, West Greenwich, RI; Naloxone and Overdose Prevention Education Program
- Skagit County MRC, Everett, WA; Coming Home to Health!
- Southwest New Mexico MRC, Silver City, NM; The Southwest Mental Health Net
- Tarrant County MRC, Fort Worth, TX; Fathers to Dads: Empowering Teen Fathers through Mentoring
- Tri-County MRC, Aledo, IL; Keeping the Faith-Community Preparedness
- Tulalip Tribes MRC, Tulalip, WA; Tulalip Bay Wellness Trail: Developing a Path to a Healthier Future
- Woodford County Health Department MRC, Versailles, KY; Step by Step to a Healthier Woodford County Through Square Foot Gardening
Local health departments (LHDs) can benefit from the expertise and innovative thinking of MRC volunteers. If your local health department does not have an MRC unit, learn more about the benefits of housing an MRC unit and how MRC volunteers augment the LHD workforce. The new NACCHO University hosts an eLearning module titled “Building Capacity from Within: Demonstrating the Value of the MRC to Local Health Departments” to illustrate the value of having MRC volunteers within local health departments. Also view NACCHO’s policy statement encouraging the inclusion of MRC volunteers in emergency response and public health activities, and the issue brief, “The MRC: A Valuable Asset to Local Health Departments” to learn how to form an MRC unit.