HHI receives $1M grant for vaccination efforts

Grants were awarded to nonprofit organizations with programs to sustain a public health workforce to respond to COVID-19 and increase COVID-19 vaccine access.

LENEXA, Kan. – Heart to Heart International (HHI) was awarded a $1 million grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the primary federal agency for improving healthcare to people who are geographically isolated and/or economically or medically vulnerable.

The grant will fund the organization’s new program, Vaccine Outreach and Education Project, established to sustain a COVID-19 public health workforce including mobilizing community outreach workers, educating the public and assisting individuals in accessing and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. Specifically, these HRSA grants were targeting programs that addressed persistent health disparities for vulnerable and medically underserved communities, including racial and ethnic minority groups and individuals living in areas of high social vulnerability.

“We’re honored to be a recipient of this funding. Our project is founded on our long-standing partnerships with trusted leaders in our community who’ve come together to address the negative effects of the pandemic,” said Heart to Heart International CEO Kim Carroll.

The grant focused on providing funding to local and/or regional community-based organizations and allowed individual organizations to partner to expand capabilities and complete a more comprehensive program. HHI partners include: JUNTOS, KC Digital, University of Kansas Medical Center, Urban League of Greater Kansas City and Community Health Council of Wyandotte County.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, HHI partnered with Dr. Kevin Sykes from the University of Kansas Medical Center to study the efficacy of COVID-19 and education approaches to vulnerable communities. This included a concerted effort with the Kansas City Metro LatinX community to work with community leaders as cultural brokers to promote COVID-19 testing and secure leadership support. When the vaccines were developed, similar programs were developed and expanded throughout the metropolitan area providing more than 4,000 vaccines in less than 6 months.

In the future, HHI’s COVID-19 community-based outreach will focus on dissemination of a multi-cultural educational and advertising campaign specifically targeting vaccine hesitancy; vaccination clinics throughout targeted neighborhoods of Greater Kansas City; community informational and training sessions, mobile clinics, working with families to vaccinate those younger than 12 when that vaccine is approved and more.

“This project will be successful because of our proven track record of collaborating with the partners that we’ve assembled for this project,” said Tena Tiruneh, HHI programs director. “We understand that communication and defending against misinformation must be a part of our campaigns. We also recognize that finding trusted community leaders from within each of our communities is key for disseminating our messaging.”

Heart to Heart International will begin its Vaccine Outreach and Education Project September 2021.

Headquartered in Lenexa, Kan., Heart to Heart International (HHI) is a global humanitarian organization focused on improving access to health. Since its inception in 1992, HHI has delivered medical aid and supplies worth $2 billion to more than 130 countries, including within the United States. HHI responds to natural disasters both domestically and internationally by supplying medical relief and mobilizing volunteers. The organization is a 4-star Charity Navigator charity, a BBB Accredited charity and is on the “Philanthropy 400.” To learn more, visit hearttoheart.org

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Navajo Nation COVID-19 response

Hand washing remains one of the top recommendations for preventing COVID-19 infections, but maintaining good hand-washing hygiene is difficult if you don’t have running water.

An estimated 30-40% of residents of the Navajo Nation do not have running water, and the pandemic has hit the Navajo Nation, which covers a 25,000-square-mile swath of the Four Corners region of the Southwest, with deadly force. As of June 16, there were 6,747 reported cases and 322 deaths in a population of 173,000, the highest known infection rate anywhere in the country, including New York City.

In May, Heart to Heart International delivered personal protective equipment, 2250 hygiene kits and 43 tons of water to organizations serving residents throughout the Navajo Nation.

Two members of the Navajo Nation holding water delivered by Heart to Heart International.

After delivering water to students on the reservation, one school administrator said: “We were able to get some water out to our students from the reservation today. They were very thankful saying they go through a lot of water. We tend to forget how precious water is, don’t we? Thank you for blessing us!”

– Dr. Kristi E. O’Riley, Executive Director, Native American Christian Academy

Another recipient said: “Just got word from the eastern “Faith Site” that as they went out to give water and supplies, many were stating that they hadn’t eaten for 3 days and they were extremely grateful.”

Tim Tsoodle, Director, Navajo Nation Christian Response Team

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Delivering supplies to rural hospitals throughout Colorado

May 2020 – When the Colorado Hospital Association contacted Heart to Heart International and requested medical supplies to respond to COVID-19 for its rural hospitals throughout the state, it was Angel Flight Central that flew to the rescue.

After loading a Beechcraft KingAir with 42 boxes of hand sanitizer (donated by Holladay Distillery) plus masks, gowns, gloves and wipes, pilots Mike McGraw and Tim Stanley flew the nearly 1,500 pounds of medical aid to Denver, Colorado. These supplies were than distributed to help rural hospitals throughout Colorado.

“The delivery was amazing. Thanks so much for your generosity! Take care and stay safe.”

– Benjamin D. Anderson, M.B.A., M.H.C.D.S., Vice President, Rural Health and Hospitals, Colorado Hospital Association

Thanks to the entire Angel Flight Central crew for their incredible assistance in helping us fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Supporting Childcare Facilities during COVID-19

As many childcare facilities are remaining open to care for essential workers’ children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidelines for maintaining health and safety of the children and workers in those facilities.

The guidelines include recommendations to check children’s temperature upon arrival as well as constant sanitation of hands and surfaces.

Working in coordination with Mid-America Regional Council and The Family Conservancy, Heart to Heart International delivered sanitizing wipes and thermometers to more than 30 childcare facilities.

Child has temperature taken by worker at childcare facility.

One facility that reached out and was in need of disposable covers for its thermometers was the Ellsworth Childcare and Learning Center in Ellsworth, Kansas.

“Thank you for your generous donation of ear probe covers for our thermometer. Due to the pandemic and increased need of medical supplies, our center was unable to locate the covers and we feared we would run out.

Childcare services have been deemed essential during this pandemic and because of you, we will be able to continue to conduct temperature health checks during this time to allow us to continue to provide childcare services to our community and surrounding communities.

I speak for myself, the Organization, and our community when I say thank you! Thank you!”

-Meghan Goding, Executive Director

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