PITTSBURGH — A team of workers is going door to door on Pittsburgh’s North Side, reaching out to neighbors to make sure they have what they need. They are providing resources to tackle everything from housing issues and food insecurity to mental health concerns and vaccine hesitancy.
Since 2018, Project Destiny and Thrive 18 have been collaborating with Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network, The Buhl Foundation, the Allegheny County Health Department, Gateway Health, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and the City of Pittsburgh.
Deborah Donovan is Highmark’s Vice President of Social Determinants of Health. Social determinants are the conditions in which people work, play, pray, live and grow that impact their life and their health. “If you don’t have healthy food to eat, you really can’t manage your diabetes. If you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you’re not worried about getting a mammogram. So the things that we in health care have traditionally needed our patients to focus on, they haven’t been able to,” Donovan told Channel 11 News. Highmark Health is working with Project Destiny and Thrive 18 to help people in the community meet those needs.
Rev. Brenda Gregg is the founder and director of Project Destiny. The organization has worked in the neighborhood for years and although they had to pivot during the pandemic, they have continued to serve their neighbors. Project Destiny established a phone line that operates 24 hours a day to be available when someone reaches out for help. “Having the kind of partnerships we’ve been able to secure, people know that they can count on us.”
One of the ways Gregg established that trust is by hiring people from the neighborhood, like Thrive18 employee Jala Rucker, who described herself as “the boots on the ground,” and told us when people see her out in the neighborhood, they flock to her with their questions. “That’s pretty much what it’s all about,” Rucker says. “Us just being here for each other and taking care of each other and walking that mile together. "
If you need help, you can check out resources available through Highmark Health’s Community Support platform.
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