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Creating a Healthier and Stronger Community through the Cambridge Community Corps

caution sign The information on this page may be outdated as it was published 3 years ago.

Cambridge Community Corps Member Offering Hand Sanitizer

In July, the City Manager’s Office in collaboration with the Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) launched the Cambridge Community Corps program. The program was developed to help encourage Cambridge residents to adopt and keep practicing safe habits, such as wearing a mask and maintaining good hand hygiene, which will help slow the spread of COVID-19. Wearing bright orange shirts, Corps Members are out in the community in public parks, tot lots, basketball courts, and other open spaces.

Corps Members are locals from the community and their role is to be a friendly resource to their fellow neighbors. If residents have questions about COVID-19 and/or new safety protocols in public spaces, members can help field questions. They can also provide masks or hand sanitizer to neighbors in need.

“With information and policies about COVID-19 changing, it’s useful to have someone available in the community that you can ask questions and talk to,” said Deanna Wu, Partnerships for Success Project Coordinator at CPHD who manages the administrative side of the program. However instead of enforcing rules, the Corps Members will be giving positive reinforcement on healthy behaviors and having friendly and helpful interactions with their neighbors.

“Our focus is not punitive, but rather to be helpful to people,” said Nancy Rihan-Porter, Manager, Community Resilience and Preparedness at CPHD, who devised and implemented the program. “We want people to feel comfortable with approaching and interacting with the Corps Members. We are focusing on those who are compliant and supporting their efforts and encouraging that good behavior.”

The program hopes to expand to help the community in other ways as well.

“The Cambridge Community Corps has been engaging the community by helping residents come together and support each other at such an uncertain time,” said Claude Jacob, Chief Public Health Officer at CPHD, and who has similar experience directly working with communities as a former AmeriCorps volunteer member. “If this program is successful, we envision that the Corps could be deployed in the future to assist with climate change outreach, heat emergencies, and other efforts that build community resiliency.”

Building community resiliency is the long-term goal for the program. A stronger community can withstand and recover from a disaster, public health emergency, or trauma more effectively than a community that is not resilient.

“If you have a close-knit community where people know and care about each other, these communities always come back stronger after an emergency,” said Rihan-Porter. “Building close connections will help the community to not only bounce back, but move forward.”

For more information about the program, please contact Nancy Rihan-Porter at nrihanporter@challiance.org.

Page was posted on 8/20/2020 4:06 PM
Page was last modified on 7/25/2023 12:34 AM
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