MAPPing Homer’s Future Health Needs

Posted in Homer Tribune on 2/17/16

By Susan Kaplan

Homer is a community that cares. We turn out for fundraisers, volunteer at local events and nurture strong friendships. In fact, according to a study completed by MAPP of the Southern Kenai Peninsula, 64 percent of local respondents say they always have supportive and loving relationships in their lives.
MAPP would like to utilize this strength.
Last Friday, the group hosted a Community Gathering event at Kenai Peninsula College to provide a forum for networking, collaborating, gathering feedback on shared goals, updates on collaborative efforts and keeping the bigger wellness picture alive.
MAPP was born out of a needs assessment required of nonprofit hospitals like South Peninsula Hospital. Now, according to their website,
“MAPP conducts community health needs assessments every three years to get a holistic, comprehensive look at the community’s strengths, needs and health trends over time. The assessment is then used to develop community priorities and strategies.”
Results from MAPP’s latest survey, “Perception of Community Health Survey,”showed that one of the greatest strengths here is the natural beauty of Homer. This was the consensus among those over the age of 20. For those 10-19 years old, the community’s strength is its cultural and arts opportunities.
The “over-20 folks” also agreed that one of Homer’s greatest challenges is creating jobs and economic opportunities. For 10-19 year-olds, public transportation was the No. 1 challenge.
These are but a couple samples of information gathered during MAPP’s third survey of the Homer area. Results can also be broken down for specific ages and geographical areas; by age, sex, income level, educational attainment, whether or not children are living in the home; there are multiple ways to look at the data.
Kyra Wagner acted as impromptu host for the Friday gathering. She started by inviting people to introduce themselves and discuss their connections to the eight dimensions of wellness.
Defined by MAPP, these eight dimensions include:
Cultural: An individual awareness of one’s own culture, — as well as understanding and respecting the diversity and richness of other cultures.
Economic: The ability to meet financial needs and adapt to unanticipated financial situations.
Educational: Recognition of creative abilities and the expansion of knowledge and skills.
Emotional: The ability to cope effectively with life and create personal enrichment through one’s work and relationships.
Environmental: A harmonious and sustainable relationship with immediate surroundings that expands to the natural world.
Physical: The ability to perform daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress.
Social: A sense of connection, belonging, safety and a reliable support system.
Spiritual: A sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Members of nonprofits, governments and for-profit enterprises also shared their connections to wellness and how their work played a role.
Robbi Mixon spoke of the Food Hub; an online farmers’ market being set up that includes fish and other perishables.
Deb Lowney of the Woodard Creek Coalition invited the crowd to The Pratt Museum on Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 5-7 p.m. for a celebration of Woodard Creek sponsored by the Pratt Museum and the Woodard Creek Coalition.
Susan Cushing spoke of good news from the state’s latest victimization survey, showing it is now trending down.
Pam Lund of the Foraker Group invited all to “co-locate/collaborate” to get the ball rolling among the many groups present and in the area at large; from sharing services to sharing a physical location. It was an opportunity to brainstorm ways the community can come together in tough financial times to grow stronger.
A local subgroup working with Lund has collected a master list of meeting spaces available in Homer; this meeting list is housed as a community resource at pop411.org. Pop411 will soon be housed at www.skpresourcedirectory.net
Lund said the next step is to explore opportunities for shared services for cost-savings. Services currently being underserved in the area include: security, web design, legal services, grant writing, facility maintenance and more.
Lund said that, by coming together to share expenses, more can be possible. And, while collaboration does require a lot of communication, it reduces the work load in the long run.
“This is the work of sustaining a mission,” Lund explained, “not necessarily an organization.”
Anyone interested in finding out more about the MAPP program and needs-assessment Perception of Community Health survey results can email Megan Murphy at mappofskp@gmail.com.