Thursday, October 22, 2009

AAHI Celebrates Seven Years of Progress

AAHI Committee members Patricia Green, president of BASIA; unknown community member; Jose Marquez, formerly with the California Endowment; Linda Hart, community member

AAHI Committee members from 2004 left to right: Dr. Robert Fick, representative for the Elks; Kim Carter, president Time for Change; Joyce Fairman, and Carl Dameron, president Dameron Communications with Diane Woods in the back row.

Diane Woods, AAHI president, at AAHI San Bernardino presentation in 2005.

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) The African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County (AAHI-SBC) will celebrate its last seven years of progress in efforts to reduce health and healthcare disparities in Black communities of the Inland Empire.

The celebration of “Our Past, Present & Future,” takes place in the Henderson Auditorium of San Bernardino Community Hospital, 1800 Western Ave., from 5:30 to 7:30pm., Thursday, October 22. For details call (909) 880-2600 or visit . All are welcomed to attend.

Black churches have had outreach health ministries in the Inland Empire for more than 50 years. Dr. Temetry Lindsey founded the Inland Behavioral Health more than 30 years ago, Dr. V.Diane Woods pointed out. And Gwen Knotts founded Knotts Family Agency shortly after that.

The local branch of the California Black Health Network, in conjunction with the Black newspapers, radio talk shows, and civic organizations, as well as the Inland Empire Black Nurses Association and ethnic physicians of the J W Vines Medical Society have always worked on health issues in the Inland Empire.

More African Americans die from the leading causes of death such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS and other preventable conditions than any other group. Even African American babies die two to three times more often than other babies.

“Simply put African American males die at an average age of 56, and African American females die at an average age of 62,” said Dr. Woods.

Community leaders who were concerned about this disparity organized the African American Health Initiative in 1998, working with the San Bernardino County Medical Society. In 2003, the Medical Society hired Dr. Woods to head a major countywide planning project for the African American Health Initiative (AAHI).

In 2004, the organization held public forums, conducted surveys, town hall meetings, and one-on-one interviews throughout San Bernardino County; gathering data from more than 1,000 local Black residents investigating why people of African ancestry continue to die much earlier than other ethnic groups; and, to identify what will work to reverse this trend.

 “Much has been accomplished since we started the health planning project in 2003,” said Dr. Woods, founding president and CEO of AAHI-SBC. “We are celebrating successful positive milestones in Black community collaboration.”

As a result of the AAHI Planning Project, a comprehensive report was developed in 2004 called Voices of the People: An Afrocentric Plan for Better Health. Nine major recommendations were proposed.

Recommendation #3 was to create a credible collaborative to focus on African American health issues. Afterwards, the African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County (AAHI-SBC) was created and incorporated as a collaborative of concerned stakeholders in January 2006 to combat these issues.

Since then, AAHI-SBC has strongly promoted change in the healthcare system through advocacy, public education, community capacity building, and research.

Since 2006, AAHI-SBC has been awarded more than a million dollars to work on health issues. Two recent awards include the California African American Initiative Statewide: HEROICs from the Department of Managed Care Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA) for $149,600; and the California Department of Mental Health Statewide Reducing Disparity Project for African Americans for $411,000.

“The African American community’s most desperate need is capacity,” Dr. Woods explained. “Capacity means having significant funds, dedicated individuals working full-time on complex, multiple problems and solutions, the ability to respond in a timely manner, and suitable facilities and infrastructure to implement appropriate interventions.

“Tremendous efforts on multiple fronts to improve the health delivery system, individual health, and in changing health policies, must be sustained,” said Dr. Woods. “In this era of national change to improve health and healthcare outcomes, seven years seems like an appointed time to celebrate good things done by our local Blacks in our communities. When we remember where we have come from, and celebrate the progress we have made with our eyes steadfast on the future it brings hope. We need a good dose of hope and encouragement every now and then, it’s good for the heart and spirit of a people.”

About the African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County
AAHI-SBC is a community-based resource focused solely on improving health among Americans of African ancestry, the poor and under-represented (URM) ethnic minorities in the Inland Empire. Visit to learn more about what self-help groups and others are doing to improve the condition of Blacks. You will also find the history of AAHI-SBC, an extensive list of partners, and activities underway. 


Teens Graduate Ready for Life

Explore, Discover, Become was the theme of FHA-HERO during the 2008-09 school year. Every year, students who are enrolled in Consumer & Family Studies, a program offered by Home Economics Careers and Technology, have the opportunity to explore possibilities, discover what interests them and become successful in life by learning skills that will help them to excel.  If they also become involved in FHA-HERO, the career technical student organization affiliated with Home Economics Careers and Technology, they will have an immediate opportunity to put their newly-learned skills into practice. Photo by Carl Dameron

These young ladies are ready to attend a school formal. This one was put on at the California State Leadership Meeting for their organization,  FHA-HERO,which teaches leadership, communication, organization and other skills they'll need to succeed in the adult world. FHA-HERO is a co-curricular student organization for Home Economics Careers and Technology. Through one of HECT's programs, Consumer & Family Studies, thousands of California students are learning these skills in an academic environment. Many of them have an immediate opportunity to put them into practice through their involvement in FHA-HERO. Photo by Carl Dameron

(SACRAMENTO Calif.) – It has been said that life brings about the most change between the ages of 16 and 26.

Between those ages, students typically graduate from high school, move from their parents’ home to a dorm or apartment, begin a career, and often, marry and have children. That’s a lot happening in the space of a few short years and, tragically, many young adults pass through this decade of life ill-prepared.

A program taught at many California high schools makes sure they are ready. It provides these students with training in personal and family management skills such as parenting, communication and budgeting, and with career preparation skills such as writing resumes, interviewing for jobs and gaining entry-level experience in career fields related to one’s “dream job.”

The program, officially known as Consumer and Family Studies, is taught through Home Economics Careers and Technology, a part of the California Department of Education. The courses within this program are known by different names, such as “Parenting,” “Life Management” and “Economics for Living.”

“I want them to be responsible citizens,” said Tracy Taylor, department chair overseeing the Home Economics Careers and Technology courses at Rowland High School in Rowland Heights. “And I want them to be prepared to have a great home, a great family AND a great career.”

At Rowland High School, as with all of the others offering Consumer and Family Studies programs, the courses serve two purposes. One is to create young adults who are well equipped to handle life’s challenges. The other is to expose them to high-demand, well-paying careers in areas such as education, culinary arts, hospitality & tourism, fashion and interior design and consumer marketing.

At many schools, students who have any interest in taking any courses offered through their Home Economics Careers and Technology department begin with a course often titled “Life Management.” 

The introductory course will give students exposure to more advanced Home Economics Careers and Technology courses the school offers, which is important because a growing number of high schools ask their ninth- or tenth-grade students to select a “pathway,” so that elective study will be focused on a specific career path.

Students in this course typically will learn about nutrition and food preparation skills, selecting and furnishing a residence, selecting apparel, and child development. With that overview, students not only have information they can use in their personal lives, but they’re also equipped to decide if careers along those pathways interest them.

Many Home Economics Careers and Technology programs offer three pathways, one focusing on culinary arts, one focusing on fashion and a third focusing on child development. A few schools also add pathways focusing on hospitality and tourism, interior design, consumer studies, food science and other related career fields.

Many schools offer more intense project-based Consumer & Family Studies courses to juniors and seniors only. The course name and focus vary somewhat, but are designed to help students make the transition from teenager to productive, independent adult.

 At Rowland High School, the course is called “Parenting,” It is a required course in the pathway focusing on child development and education, but open to all students in grades 11 and 12.

And what does “Parenting” entail? The development, care and guidance of children is certainly part of the course, but sometimes, it’s only a small part.

These parenting topics are addressed for two weeks at the end of the first semester. Before then, students will study self-awareness, dating and relationships, marriage preparation, deciding when or if to have kids, and what to expect during pregnancy and childbirth. 

In the second semester, Rowland High’s parenting course focuses on what it’s like to raise a family in the real world. Students will have to develop that real-life scenario in another project, by “finding” jobs and places to live, and putting together budgets for their make-believe households.

“My parenting class is highly popular,” Taylor said. “My students rave over what life lessons I have taught them, some even tell me they share these with their own parents who never knew certain things.  These are life skills used in making daily choices as young adults and one day, as parents and spouses.”

At Fountain Valley High School in Fountain Valley, a similar course is offered. This course, after a beginning unit on self awareness, starts off by having students consider something they might, as seniors, be doing anyhow – selecting a new city to live in and what college to attend.

They will then learn about finding an apartment and a roommate to share the household expenses. Lessons in interior decoration, budgeting and cooking round out the first semester.

“Our students really like this course,” said Armida Gordon, one of two teachers at Fountain Valley High School who teaches the course. “It teaches them how to move out and live on their own.”

In the second semester, they will learn more about budgeting, goal setting, communication and career planning. A unit on relationships, which touches on marriage and family life, is part of the second-semester curriculum.

Research-based projects accompany each unit, Gordon said. At the end of the year, students have a notebook that can serve as a handy reference manual when they actually move away from their parents’ home and must make personal and household management decisions on their own.

“We have a student teacher this semester in our English department who took the course years ago,” Gordon said. “He says that course and Foods and Nutrition, were two of the most valuable courses he took in high school, because he couldn’t live without them.”

There are more than 750 schools offering the Home Economics Careers and Technology program in California, serving more than 300,000 students. Many of these also offer the co-curricular student leadership and career development program FHA-HERO. For more information, call State Consultant Janice DeBenedetti at (916) 323-5025.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Salvation Army Graduates Honored With Sobriety Banquet

Trent Bush, who graduated from the Adult Rehabilitation Center's sobriety program several years ago, tells a group of community leaders the difference this program made in his life. Carl Dameron photo

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) The San Bernardino County Adult Rehabilitation Center will host “A Celebration of Sobriety” at its men’s’ residence, 363 S. Doolittle Road, San Bernardino, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22.

The Celebration of Sobriety is an annual event, but this is the first time it will be held in this building. The center relocated here in December 2008 from a smaller residential center on Tenth Street.

“With our new men’s residence on Doolittle Street, we can accommodate 125 men,” said Maj. John Randall, executive director of the Adult Rehabilitation Center. “They spend six months going through a sobriety program, where they learn to live with God, and without drugs and alcohol. When they graduate from the program, they have an opportunity to join the alumni association and begin to rebuild their lives in a positive, constructive manner.”

The Celebration of Sobriety will honor one man who has completed the program in the past 12 months as “Alumnus of the Year.”

It also honors all graduates who remain sober by having them participate in a “Sobriety Countdown.” This begins with all graduates standing for recognition. Those who have been sober for increasingly longer periods of time remain standing. Some graduates of this program have remained sober for more than 20 years.

The keynote speaker for the event is San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris. The event begins with a dinner followed by the program.

Space is limited, so reservations are necessary. Only adults should attend.

To make reservations, call (909) 889-9605 or email

The Adult Rehabilitation Center is one of two branches of The Salvation Army operating in San Bernardino. The other branch is the San Bernardino Corps. Together, they are part of a ministry that has served the needy of San Bernardino Valley for 122 years.

The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the Universal Christian Church, and also offers evangelical programs for boys, girls and adults. One of the largest charitable and international service organizations in the world, The Salvation Army has been in existence since 1865 and in San Bernardino since 1887, supporting those in need without discrimination. Donations may always be made online at or by calling 1-(800)-SAL-ARMY.