Social Media for Social Good

Recently, I’ve been asked to speak at several events around using social media to help address some of the root causes of social problems in our communities, and to promote the growth of vibrant, inclusive communities, especially as it relates to health care. I’ve also had several individual discussions with people interested in finding ways to enhance their social media skills as part of a larger effort to serve the good of their communities.

For some time now, a bunch of people working in health care social media in Connecticut have been gathering monthly for breakfast and weekly online to discuss health care and social media in Connecticut. From my recent discussions, it seems like there might be some benefit for people around Middletown, where I work, who are interested in working together to use social media for social good to gather, share ideas, and find ways to work together.

If you’re interested, please let me know.

The Ice Cream Community Reinvestment Foundation

It started off a bit strange. I was at a some sort of business conference with a friend. He was trying to buy a portfolio of mortgages. He worked the crowd trying to find the seller and the information he needed. Finally, he found it and passed it off to me. It was in a spreadsheet on a thumbdrive. Years ago, I used to look at spreadsheets like this, so I plugged the thumbdrive into my laptop and started analyzing the mortgages.

Most of them looked pretty straight forward, but, as is often the case, and I suspect even more frequently these days, there were some 'underperforming mortgages', that is mortgages behind in payments and likely to default.

I looked a little more closely. These were mortgages of people and businesses in my community. It was then that the idea struck me. We should sell these mortgages to a local ice cream shop. They would use some of the profits from ice cream sales to pay down and retire the under performing mortgages. Since they would be the mortgage holders, it would help out with their investments as well. Sort of like Kiva meets Newman's Own at Ashley's Ice Cream shop.

It all made perfect sense. Now, all I needed to do was to speak with a few friends from a previous life of mine as a technologist working with mortgages on Wall Street with some of my new friends working at community health centers. The idea would be a little bit outside of the core competencies of each group of friends, but together they cut put together a good team of people to make this happen.

Then, the cat jumped on the bed. I rolled over and saw that it was 5:17 AM. It was warm under the covers, but I knew I needed to get up and take care of the animals. Nonetheless, the idea from the dream stuck with me. Could we create an Ice Cream Community Reinvestment Foundation? I figured the best approach would be to write down the dream and send an email to some friends for their thoughts. If the idea does manage to stand up on its own, it is likely to change shape a bit, but that is where my friends can help out the most. What doe you think? Can ice cream help solve the mortgage crisis?

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#FF @CHCConnecticut @CHCRadio @NACHC @CACHCA_RCACCS @LNReynolds @aabayasekara @pedrotoledo @NNOHA @CareAlliance @PCHG

Note: Although this is talking about my job at the Community Health Center, Inc. and is very work related, it is on my personal blog and reflections personal opinions and not necessarily those of CHC.

Every Friday, I try to put up a Follow Friday or #FF post on my blog. Since I use Twitter feed, the title and a link gets posted to twitter.

On Wednesday, @CHCRadio broadcasted an episode featuring Dan Hawkins of the National Association of Community Health Centers (@NACHC). @CHCRadio is a project of @CHCConnecticut and it was great to spend some time working with people from @NACHC. Folks from @CHCConnecticut, @CHCRadio and @NACHC live tweeted the show and others picked up on it. One of the things that Dan spoke about was the relationship between community health centers in the United States and similar entities in other countries. He spoke about an international conference of community health centers.

One group that retweeted some of the posts about Dan was the Canadian Alliance of Community Health Centre Associations @ CACHCA_RCACCS. I’ve sent a couple good messages back and forth with them and I’m glad to be participating in some pre-conference tweeting with them. As an aside, last I checked, they were less than ten people away from crossing the 500 followers line. If you aren’t following them already and you are interested in health care, especially from a Canadian or international perspective, you should follow them.

Another person who joined in the retweeting was Lindsey Ruivivar, @LNReynolds. She is a regional field organizer for NACHC and a leader in social media at community health centers. She has a list of Federally Qualified Health Centers which is worth checking out. @aabayasekara and @pedrotoledo also have lists of health centers worth checking out. The National Network for Oral Health Access @NNOHA also has a list of health centers, since community health centers very often provides dental services.

Starting with the @NNOHA list, I have begun looking at what other community health centers are doing. A couple that jumped out at me are the Care Alliance Health Center, @CareAlliance and Premier Community HealthCare Group, @PCHG. There are a lot of other interesting people tweeting about community health centers, but I thought this is a good starting point for people to check out.

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Honoring Christina Green

Note: Like other areas in this blog, in this post, I am talking about politics and my job. I work for a 501(c)3 which cannot and does not support or oppose specific candidates. The political opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of the organization I work for.

Christina Green was a few weeks older than my daughter, Fiona. Like Fiona, Christina was interested in politics and went to hear her congresswoman at a local meet and greet. Fiona has over heard a little bit about the terrible tragedy that happened in Arizona but still plays with her puppy before heading off to see her friends at school.

Tears come to my eyes as I think about Christina and her family. I do not know how I could handle such grief. I listen to the news and hear reports of conservative talk radio hosts saying that their vitriol has nothing to do with the tragedy and criticizing liberals for trying to use this event to shut up conservatives. They say that it wasn’t their vitriol that caused this tragedy, it was the act of a sick and deranged young man. As I listen to them and think about Christina and think about Fiona, they sound pretty sick and deranged themselves.

The only sense I can make of it is that they are so impotent and their arguments so weak that they cannot express themselves or gather support without resorting to violent vitriol. Perhaps we have reached our generations’ Joseph Welch moment. On June 9th, 1954, Joseph Welch issued his famous line, “Have you no sense of decency sir”. I only hope so.

So, how do we handle grief? We continue on with our daily lives. The news reports say that Christina Green wanted to grow up to help other people. She will not have that opportunity now, so we must take a little more of that on ourselves.

I am blessed. My job is to help others. I am the social media manager for a Community Health Center. Yesterday, I received emails from a person in our Nurturing Families Program with pictures of their most recent graduation and celebration.

I then posted on the CHC Facebook wall

Nurturing Connection is recruiting volunteers to mentor and support first time moms in the Meriden and Wallingford area. Volunteers are asked to mentor a new parent by telephone once a week for a period of three to six months. Ongoing training with the Nurturing Connections Coordinator is offered to each volunteer for support and guidance as a mentor. Please contact Alejandra Godaire at (203) 237-2229 ext 6035.

Can you help first time moms raise children as wonderful as Christina or Fiona? If so, for Christina’s sake, please volunteer.

I also spent some time working on the CHC Community HealthCorps Facebook page. Community HealthCorps is part of AmeriCorps. Volunteers spend a year helping at health center. CHC has some GREAT AmeriCorps volunteers, and it has been wonderful to get to know them, to share information about what they have been doing, and to encourage others to also volunteer with AmeriCorps, and particularly with CHC Community HealthCorps.

I also spent time talking with people at Domus and at Rushford, two other groups that CHC interacts with, about how we can all work together to help make our world a better place.

I still grieve for Christina. I pray for her and her family. I pray for those who seem incapable of working for good without spewing worlds of hatred and violence. I pray for Fiona that our world may become a little safer. I pray for the Nurturing Families volunteers and the CHC Community HealthCorps volunteers, past, present and future, that they may all find ways to live the dream of Christina. Join me in my grieving and prayers.

What Do You Expect?

I remember when my daughters were in preschool, I would sometimes drop them off. As I expected, they would run into their classroom, eager to see their teachers and classmates. I would sometimes watch as other children wept, clinging to their mothers, not wanting to go to school. I often thought that my children, and these other children, were simply living up to expectations.

It is easy to believe that children sense what their parents expect, and try to live up to these expectations, but does the same apply to adults? Perhaps. All of us are likely to fall back on behaviors from our childhood. If this is true, what does this say about our expectations of the people around us?

Do we expect people to treat us with respect? Do we expect the people around us to be friendly and act intelligently? Do we expect this, even if they come from different groups than us, if they are of a different race, religion, or socioeconomic stratum?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently in terms of my recent blog posts about ‘The Face of God’. Do we expect those around us to exhibit godliness? What might happen if we tried to change our expectations?

It is easy to take this down the path of prosperity preachers and the law of attraction. If we expect to be blessed, we may attract prosperity. Yet I have real problems with the way a lot of people seem to approach this. To many people seem to confuse prosperity with wealth and material possessions, and need to remember that the love of money is the root of all evil and that you cannot serve both God and money.

Yet it seems like expecting to see the face of God in the people around us could change our experiences.

Note: I started composing this in the morning. I was going to talk a little bit about hearing Harpeth Rising last night, which was a wonderful experience. Then, everything changed with the shooting in Arizona. I’m posting this as is, and may have more comments later.

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