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Committee for a Better Arvin, Comite Progreso de Lamont, and Center on Race Poverty and the Environment (CRPE) reached an agreement with Recology over the company’s new operation of Recology Blossom Valley Organics, a composting facility outside of Lamont.

“This agreement signifies a new beginning for the residents of Lamont and Arvin in terms public health and safety, and a partnership between Recology and the local community,” wrote CRPE in a press release.

The community agreement will ensure the operation is safe, protects public health, and also makes significant financial investments in the community.

“Recology has committed to installing an aeration system that will reduce pollution by at least 80 percent, this commitment was a driving factor for the community groups to enter into negotiations,” read the press release. “The goals of the agreement are to maintain an open line of communication with the nearby residents of Lamont, Weedpatch and Arvin, improve neighborhood safety and livability, and ensure a high quality of environmental standards are met.”

The history of relationships between economically disadvantaged communities and industrial corporations is often one of conflict. This win is an example of how corporations can work together with residents and why it’s important that corporations engage community residents into business processes.

We are proud to announce that Building Healthy Communities South Kern is sponsoring Bakersfield College’s Public Health Hackathon, an event that will bring together public health and science students to develop solutions to community health challenges. 
One of the challenges that will be poised to students is the need for a Building Healthy Communities South Kern application, so that partners can be connected and communicate in real time. 
The free event takes place March 17, 18, & 19 at Bakersfield College, 1801 Panorama Dr. in Bakersfield. Participants interested in collaborating can sign up for the hackathon at bcinnocates.com. For more information, please call Allyssa Haas at (661) 368-5482.

Public health officials, community leaders, churches, and residents launched an educational campaign about the human and economic impacts of the Medi-Cal expansion. The campaign was launched early this month and includes billboards, radio spots and print ads in the Bakersfield Californian.

Below are several of the potential effects a repeal of Medi-cal expansion will have on Kern’s economy:

  • Our public agencies are already facing slashed budgets–an additional $305 million would be eliminated from Kern County’s economy.
  • People would lose their jobs–about 4,000 jobs in health care and other industries will be lost.
  • Our shortage of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals would be made even worse.
  • Our local hospitals are finally being paid for the care they are providing–a trend we want to maintain.
  • More than 95,000 residents would lose coverage, leaving them with no support when illness, injury or accidents occur.

Join our campaign. Send us a message to learn how you can work with us.

[Click here to read the ad we are sponsoring in the Bakersfield Californian.]

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Building Healthy Communities South Kern, CSU Bakersfield’s Social Justice Center and the Kern Rural Teacher Residency will host best-selling author Jonathan Kozol as he leads future and current educators and advocates in a discussion about educational inequality and racial justice.

Kozol, in his latest book, ‘Savage Inequalities,” brings into question the reality of equal opportunity in the country’s public education system.

The free event takes place Saturday, March 25 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Cal State Bakersfield’s Dore Theatre, 9000 Stockdale Hwy. Free parking is available in Lots B and C. Please click here to register for the event.

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The newly constructed action park in DiGiorgio Park is almost complete and ready for area youth to enjoy. Please join us for the grand opening of Arvin’s newest youth attraction to be held at DiGiorgio Park in Arvin on Friday, March 24 at 4:00 p.m.

After months of advocating for a skate park, Arvin youth who participate in Bike Bakersfield’s Arvin bike kitchen, will soon see their dream become a reality.

Building youth leaders and creating safe places for youth is one of Building Healthy Communities South Kern’s priorities. And this park is an example of how community organizations can work together with local government to help build youth leadership.

Parks also help improve health outcomes. According to Kern County Network for Children’s 2016 Report Card, in Kern, “25.5 percent of 5th graders, 23.8 percent of 7th graders and 20.8 percent of 9th graders were in the high-risk category for body composition.”

The skate park was made possible thanks to a partnership between the City of Arvin, Bike Bakersfield, Tony Hawk Foundation, Mountain Side Disposal, and Building Healthy Communities South Kern.

BHC-SK applauds the City of Arvin for listening and wanting to engage youth in the design process. This partnership proves the rewarding results for a community when community groups work together with local government to create opportunities for young people.

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By Diana Cisneros

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Enrique Sanchez, 49, still remembers July 14, 2015. That was the date when laboratory tests confirmed what the trucker had: multiple myeloma.

It’s a cancer formed by plasma cells that have turned malignant. Normal plasma cells are found in the bone marrow and are an important part of the immune system. Few cases of the disease are linked to risk factors that can be avoided, so there is no known way to prevent most multiple myelomas from developing.

The disease weakens the kidneys and bones. At the time of his diagnosis, Sanchez’s kidneys were functioning at 12 percent capacity. He developed a C-2 vertebral fracture because of which he couldn’t return to work, which resulted in an end to his employer-sponsored health benefits.

Sanchez’s life became a nightmare. He was jobless, had limited mobility and endless pain. Paying his medical bills and supporting his wife and three children, all of whom were in college, became very challenging.

As Sanchez transitioned into an unfamiliar world of medical jargon, he said he became scared. He feared what the future held for him.

Read more here.

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Kern County community leaders interested in learning about enhancing access to health in Kern are invited to attend Kern’s 2017 Call to Action Summit. To be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bakersfield on March 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on March 16 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Participants will have the opportunity to tour Arvin or McFarland and engage with various stakeholders and community leaders who are working to provide a safe and healthy environment for their residents.

To register for the event, please click here. For additional information call Tammy Fisher at (661) 321-3000.

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On Thursday, Jan. 19 the County of Kern hosted the State Senate Health Committee where members heard from public health organizations and residents about the human and economic impacts of the Medi-Cal expansion should it be repealed.
“Thanks for giving Kern residents the opportunity to tell you about the impact the Affordable Care Act has had in our lives,” said Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez during the hearing.
The California Endowment’s Dr. Tony Iton, also addressed the committee during public comment. He spoke about the devastating consequences a repeal would have on human health.
“It could be a devastating decision for Americans with mental illness,” said Dr. Iton. “Not the time to dismantle the health care safety net anywhere, particularly for a population that desperately needs it.”
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Building Healthy Communities South Kern’s Kern Education Justice Collaborative has launched a campaign to inform residents about the Local Control Funding Formula and encourage parents to give feedback on the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). The LCAP details the districts’ annual goals and details how funds will be spend to increase or improve services for students.

The KHSD has millions of dollars to use to help low-income students, foster youth and English Language Learners. Join us in telling the KHSD to stop focusing on guns and help our students graduate and get ready for their future.

Recently, the Kern High School District (KHSD) voted to allow teachers to carry handguns on campus, a vote in November that community members say was politics at its worst. The board held the meeting at unusual date and time, and chose to put their personal political agendas ahead of students’ needs.

For more information about this effort or to get involved, please call the KEJC at (661) 322-3033.

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, Arvin residents, clergy, and community leaders will hold a press in front of the Arvin City Hall at 5:30 p.m. to ask city leaders to make Arvin a sanctuary city.

Declaring Arvin a sanctuary city will not only help limit the collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE (Immigrations Customs Enforcement), but it will also send a strong message to the people of Arvin that lets them know that they are welcome.
Recently, Arvin City Council voted down a motion that would declare Arvin a sanctuary city, and opted for drafting a weaker resolution that would provide some protection.
“We need to push more strongly for sanctuary by asking for them to pass a stronger ordinance,” says Josth Stenner of Faith in the Valley Kern County. “The policy the council voted on isn’t strong enough, because it’s a resolution, and Arvin needs an ordinance which essentially has more teeth, it’s more legally binding.”
After the press conference the group will address the Arvin City Council at 6 p.m. during the regularly scheduled meeting.
When: Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Arvin City Hall, 200 Campus Dr., Arvin, CA

Who: Faith in The Valley Kern County, Dolores Huerta Foundation, UFW Foundation, The Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Building Healthy Communities South Kern, residents, students, clergy