Curry & Roosevelt Counties Aim for 100%
In our interview with Sarah Long, the new coordinator for our Curry and Roosevelt County initiative, we explore how eastern New Mexico is innovating to ensure ten vital services for surviving and thriving.
The 100% Curry and Roosevelt initiative in engaged in a variety of activities that include assessing the availability of ten vital services for surviving and thriving to increasing public awareness of the initiative’s goal to prevent adverse childhood experiences and social adversity. One community event to inspire local people was the 100% Mural Project launched last week. The 100% Curry and Roosevelt initiative organized a diverse group of local community members and leaders to unveil their first 100% Community Mural. It’s brilliantly located on a main thoroughfare in Portales, New Mexico and can be seen right before you enter the town’s downtown corridor. The Community came out to support the vision of the initiative and shared pizza, stories, and recounted how they felt the mural could bring attention to the vision of their work. The Mural was completed by a local artist who teaches art courses at the Eastern New Mexico University and drew inspiration and colors from a real New Mexico sunset. The Mural includes a nopal cactus, with each of the 10 sectors written on the pads of the cactus. The group highlighted their strong ties to cross sector organizations and announced their intention to have another mural in Clovis, which is in Curry County. Many community members were introduced to the Anna Age Eight book and took a copy for themselves to be a part of the ongoing book clubs hosted by 100% Curry and Roosevelt.
Question: What inspired United Way of Eastern New Mexico to start the 100% New Mexico initiative?
Sarah Long: Eastern New Mexico faced several tragedies involving young people in 2017 (suicides and a shooting at the public library), which led United Way ENM Board of Directors to revise our focus onto child wellbeing and youth success. So, our Youth Success Initiative was born. Working with numerous community leaders, we made some progress, but we needed a clearer path. The 100% Community strategies provide a road map to our goal of seeing all our young people thrive.” – Erinn Burch, Executive Director of United Way ENM
Question: Your initiative is different from others in that you have created an initiative to focus on ensuring vital services in two counties: Curry and Roosevelt. Why did you want to coordinate the work of stakeholders in two counties together?
Sarah Long: Historically, people residing in Curry and Roosevelt counties adapted to sharing resources throughout New Mexico and Texas due to a limited supply of equitable, sustainable services available to 100% of county residents. By teaming up with stakeholders in both Curry and Roosevelt counties, we can address the overlapping use of current resources in both counties to ensure that all county residents, including those in our small towns and villages, have equitable access to the services needed for all to survive and thrive. Resolving barriers to services in these interconnected counties will ensure that ten vital services are accessible and sustainable for both populations to thrive together without competing for resources.
Question: In the summer, while maintaining our county model for implementation, we will also create five regions across the state to coordinate the work of counties, promoting collaboration and alignment that supports the mission. Our regions mirror the regions of the NM Dept of Health. Your “Southeast” region would include Curry, Roosevelt, Lea, Eddy, Chaves, Lincoln, De Baca, Guadalupe, and Quay. What benefits to your initiative can you see to the regional work by our managers?
Sarah Long: The addition of a regional manager to support our local two-county team will be a great asset when evaluating our initiative from a “big picture” perspective. It is natural to slide into small-town idealism when addressing issues within a limited area, so our action teams could greatly benefit from a regional manager who can aid in generating and pitching large-scale solutions to seemingly overwhelming obstacles. The knowledge and experience of a regional manager will provide invaluable support and assistance throughout the entire 100% New Mexico initiative, thus encouraging and enhancing resource accessibility throughout our entire region.
Question: In Curry County, you already have an organization that provides many of the services our proposed 100% Family Center: One Stop Service Hub. What resources would you need to expand current services in the existing center to have staff helping parents navigate to our ten vital services for surviving and thriving?
Sarah Long: We are currently still in the data-collection stage, so we do not have a plan in place for this necessity just yet. However, one option is to add “human assets” to our work at Matt 25 in Clovis and to Hope Ministries in Portales. Those “human assets” could be resource navigators dedicated to helping parents and individuals engage with ten vital services. Other assets could be serving as client support for computer/internet access, printing services, grant application assistance, etc. Another “human asset” could be a database curator who would be focused on keeping our 211 database accurate and comprehensive. That person would be a valuable investment. Having additional resources for a higher level of software for cross-agency client tracking would enable better collaboration between networked agencies and a deeper assessment of client progress toward their goals.
Question: Your county uses the 211 system. Can you tell us about that service and how it supports our mission?
Sarah Long: 211 provides non-emergency referrals to health and human service organizations, seeking to inform and empower those seeking help. Because 211 makes navigating the social services ecosystem/network more efficient by ensuring people in need are connected to agencies that can help them, this service fully aligns with the 100% New Mexico mission to ensure that 100% of county residents can reach ten vital services. (The local initiative work is ensuring ten services actually exist.) 211 allows an open line of communication between those in need of services and professionals who will listen and evaluate the situation to direct them to the most appropriate resources available. We know from 100% New Mexico countywide surveys of parents in many counties that the existence of a service does not guarantee that the public utilizes that service. Increased awareness and usage of 211 will increase the likelihood of clients accessing available services.
Question: You were awarded a grant from the Con Alma Foundation to grow the 100% Curry-Roosevelt initiative. What does this allow you to do?
Sarah Long: United Way of Eastern New Mexico was granted single-cycle funding from the Con Alma Health Foundation, specifically to hire a full-time staff member dedicated to the 100% New Mexico initiative. With this funding, we can lay a strong foundation necessary for the long-term success of our unique, dual-county approach to the 100% New Mexico initiative.
Question: You are launching two book clubs, one with Anna, Age Eight and one with 100% Community, to meet the interest of local stakeholders. What are the benefits of book clubs?
Sarah Long: We implemented two book clubs as an expedited approach to sharing the 100% New Mexico initiative with stakeholders and our Curry/Roosevelt communities. The Anna, Age Eight book club serves to educate the public on the impact of childhood trauma and maltreatment, ultimately igniting their desire to serve as a catalyst for positive social change. Following up with the second book club on 100% Community, participants will learn about this data-driven, tested, and comprehensively outlined process of ensuring all people from each county have equitable access to the ten vital services needed to survive and thrive. These book clubs generate discussions, questions, and ideas, thus enhancing the knowledge and capacity necessary for our action teams to effect positive, sustainable change in Curry and Roosevelt counties.
Question: What might your biggest challenges be?
Sarah Long: Maintaining the involvement and commitment of necessary partners across the ten services may be a challenge because many have experienced repeated attempts at reform. Therefore, it is critical that we have consistent effort, support and progress on removing the barrier to those services. Receiving adequate recurring funding to truly reach 100% of Curry and Roosevelt counties presents a challenge. We have faith that state and local leaders will recognize the significance of supporting us in long-term work to achieve our goal of 100% through sustainable data-driven solutions and continuous community improvement.
Question: What do you see as your biggest opportunities for success?
Sarah Long: The opportunity to form strong, meaningful partnerships with local agencies, organizations, and leadership dedicated to serving 100% of Curry and Roosevelt counties will be our greatest opportunity for success. Additionally, our book clubs provide opportunities for education, reflection, and meaningful discussions with both community members and potential stakeholders. Every voice matters, and we will be most successful when every voice is finally heard.
Question: What brought you to do this community work?
Sarah Long: After a long history of providing individual-level advocacy, I constantly saw gaps in services that people need to survive and thrive. Part of my job was helping people navigate around those gaps. With 100% Curry and Roosevelt, this community work allows me to advocate at a county level to help bridge those gaps (in two counties!). My work as an individual advocate grounded me in the reality of why things need to change, but now my goal is to learn how to change those things on the larger community and societal levels; then help make positive change a reality for 100%.
Sarah Long welcomes your email and is eager to share insights on growing 100% in Eastern New Mexico. Email: email@example.com