The Quileute Health Center responds to the challenges of COVID-19 by working together with various departments to creatively meet the needs of the community. The Quileute Tribe was one of 17 recipients of OCH’s COVID-19 Response Funds, receiving $25,000 to support the creation and distribution of community wellness kits. These kits have had an incredible impact on the community, providing opportunities for creative expression, safe community connections, and raising awareness of local services available through the Quileute Health Center.
What Sparked the Wellness Kits?
The Quileute Health Center’s New Beginnings Program provides advocacy services to those living on or near the Quileute and Hoh River Reservations who are, or have been, victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, stalking or elder abuse as well as provides support to their family and friends. The program is built on a foundation of community and group support. Amid COVID-19, New Beginnings’ in-person talking circles, family engagement nights, and carving center services had to be put on hold.
New Beginnings Program Manager, Naomi Jacobson, was faced with the question “how are we going to have service delivery if we can’t have these in-person groups?”
Jacobson and her team knew that attempting to connect the community in a time of physical distancing would require collaboration and cross-department support. So, they invited various voices to the table, creating the wellness activities partnership. The partnership consists of representation from the QHC New Beginnings, QHC Behavioral Health, Drug & Alcohol Prevention, and Tribal Court Crime Victims.
By collaborating across departments, the partnership began producing wellness kits to be distributed to the community. The kits contain activities and resources encouraging self-care, creativity, and safe socialization. Each partner contributes something different to the kits, providing well rounded activities that engage the community in meaningful ways.
The kits are delivered monthly to every household in the reservation, reaching approximately 400 individuals. Each delivery contains different activities and resources and often contains items rooted in Quileute tradition such as coloring pages, essential oils, fry bread ingredients and recipes, carved feathers, canoe pins, and dream catchers.
Jacobson shared, “we have an elder who is an artist, who recently shared how grateful he is for receiving these kits. He said that he has not painted in years and since receiving these kits he has been inspired to pick up his brushes and paint again.”
These kits provide hope and an opportunity to pause and connect with oneself and the community. The activities are small, however, they have a big impact.
Community members are encouraged to share photos and videos of their wellness activities on social media. Those who participate are entered into a bi-weekly raffle. By sharing these creative activities with one another online, a sense of community is fostered. “They are inspiring on another, saying ‘good job, that looks great!’ Little personal comments that are uplifting,” says Jacobson. During the pandemic, many are experiencing social isolation and loneliness. The sense of connection and support from the community is essential in times like these.
Meeting People Where They’re At
The wellness kits contain contact information for the various local health programs, reminding individuals that there are resources available. Moving forward, New Beginnings will offer virtual group services, providing another way for the community to stay connected and prioritize their health during COVID-19. Health services and community engagement have been challenged this year, but the Quileute Health Center provides an inspiring example of the power of creative problem solving, collaboration, and community resilience. Learn more about the Quileute Tribe’s community wellness kits by contacting Naomi Jacobson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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