Name change to distinguish coalition from services

Published 10:57 am Monday, January 2, 2012

“Polk Fit, Fresh and Friendly, A Coalition For Wellness Promotion” is the new message for the former Polk County Wellness Coalition, a consortium of volunteers dedicated to making a difference in the health and wellness of Polk County. The new name reflects the mission of a broad-based group of community leaders, health professionals and concerned community members working together to plan and implement effective strategies to promote wellness in our community.
Polk Fit, Fresh and Friendly recognizes that wellness is more than absence of disease and requires more than access to medical care. Wellness involves thriving and emphasizes such factors as physical activity, healthy eating, spiritual comfort and positive, supportive relationships.
“We felt compelled to be er organize if we really want to implement effective strategies and make change happen,” said Linda Greensfelder, the new chair for Polk Fit, Fresh and Friendly, also known as PF3. “We needed a cohesive board of leaders and an updated name, both to emphasize our expanded definition of wellness and to minimize confusion of our group with the Polk Wellness Center. The names are just too similar, because we’re both focused on wellness.”
Polk Wellness Center is located at Columbus Professional Center, 801 West Mills St., Columbus, with an office utilizing physicians, physician assistants, therapists and support staff to offer comprehensive health and wellness services to Polk County and surrounding areas.
Originally formed years ago as an advisory committee for Polk County Board of Commissioners, the Mental Health Advisory Board reconvened in 2003 as the Polk County Wellness Coalition, always working to address health issues and avoid duplication of services while ensuring a much-needed safety net of community-based assistance. In addition to sharing resources and information, the Wellness Coalition, now Polk Fit, Fresh and Friendly, helps coordinate a federally mandated Community Health Assessment every three years and creates programs to address those health issues and health disparities as identified by the assessment.
Because of the collaborative efforts to address various healthcare issues, the Coalition achieved Healthy Carolinians status in 2007 and statewide recognition along with $5,000 in funding. Budget cuts in 2009 saw the demise of funding and the group lost its part-time administrative assistant.
“These changes created the need and the opportunity for the Wellness Coalition to regroup and refocus,” Greensfelder said. “We held a workshop last fall to discuss direction and funding. A determination was made then to reorganize the Wellness Coalition and to explore names that would distinguish our group from the Polk County Wellness Center.”
PF3 reorganized with a board of volunteers who’ve agreed to serve a one-to three-year term and work with any or all of the four action teams that continue to meet to address concerns identified in the last Community Health Assessment: Access to Care; Wellness Promotion; Obesity; and Mental Health/Substance Abuse. Board members must live or work in Polk County. Most all demographics and communities are represented. The board and action teams meet monthly while the full group and sub-committees meet quarterly for networking and brainstorming.
PF3 is comprised of volunteers and professionals from numerous social, civic and spiritual organizations, including representatives from Polk-Rutherford-McDowell Health Department, St. Luke’s Hospital, Department of Social Services (DSS), Mental Health Services, Polk County Transportation, Thermal Belt Outreach, The Dental Center, Mill Springs Agriculture Center, Manna Food Bank, Polk County Extension Services, Smart Start and Polk County School System, to name a few.
The next meeting of the full Coalition will be held at noon, Jan. 26, at the new DSS building and will include a tour of the building. For more information, please call 828-894-2408.
– article submitted by Kathy Woodham