Our counties are unique in the degree to which agencies helping low-income families work cooperatively to serve our clients and support one another.

Let us introduce you to Robert Ostermeyer, the director of Franklin Grand Isle Community Action. We asked him to explain a little of what he and the Community Action do and his thoughts on improving our tomorrow. Here’s what he had to say:

This is an exciting time to be part of a collaborative effort looking at the health of our local population as a whole.

Under the Affordable Communities for Health initiative, Northwestern Medical Center has brought together partners from health care, social services, and other sectors to take responsibility for the health of the entire population in a defined geographic area. The model fosters collaboration that engages all the levers of population health—social circumstances, economic conditions, environment, behavior, and more. This creates a framework where all the natural allies in the work of promoting a healthier, more secure community can meet in support of our common mission.

In short, what does Franklin Grand Isle Community Action (FGICA) do?

Franklin Grand Isle Community Action is a multi-service non-profit that works to support low-income households in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. This includes housing assistance, emergency fuel and utility assistance, emergency food shelves (NorthWest Family Foods), transportation assistance, food stamp outreach, and other locally-based services.

What inspires you to continue your work with FGICA?

Things don’t just happen; effort is required to keep the world and the communities we inhabit in working order; everyone contributes. I’m lucky to work with people whose grace and sanity keep me going. And, I think living in a just and equitable society is preferable to living in one that isn’t.

What about your program or the situation have improved over time?

We have been able to develop increasingly effective connections with other agencies to secure gains through mutual cooperation and work in conjunction with each other to respond to challenges with creativity.

Where do you see areas in the community that could benefit from additional attention?

The lack of adequate income in many households coupled with the scarcity of good, affordable housing is an ongoing problem. Likewise, our food shelf program, NorthWest Family Foods serves over 10% of the bi-county area. A lot of our neighbors just don’t have the resources to make it from month to month.

Would you like to give a shout out to anyone who’s worked with you to improve our tomorrow?

The counties are unique, in my experience, in the degree to which helping agencies work cooperatively to serve our clients and support one another. And beyond the professional network, individual donors, local churches, and organizations such as the Rotary Club of St. Albans have made significant contributions to our efforts. I want to thank them all.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Robert, and thanks for the work Franklin Grand Isle Community Action does in our area. We are truly grateful.

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