Giving Heart director and CCM reporter receive Public Health Hero awards

Tri-County Health Department honors 10 for their work in promoting and improving public health

Posted 4/15/19

Donna Zimmerman of Giving Heart Englewood, a nonprofit that works with people who experience homelessness, and Colorado Community Media reporter Alex DeWind, who reported a series of stories on the …

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Giving Heart director and CCM reporter receive Public Health Hero awards

Tri-County Health Department honors 10 for their work in promoting and improving public health

Posted

Donna Zimmerman of Giving Heart Englewood, a nonprofit that works with people who experience homelessness, and Colorado Community Media reporter Alex DeWind, who reported a series of stories on the state of mental health in Douglas County, were honored April 9 as one of 10 recipients of Tri-County Health Department’s 2019 Public Health Hero awards. 

Tri-County Health Department, which serves Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties, recognizes individuals and organizations that are not in the public health profession but have worked to improve and promote public health.

“These are people who are doing God's work, who are not paid to do it — at least from the public health profession," said John Douglas, Tri-County’s executive director.

Zimmerman, executive director of Giving Heart, and her volunteer team have worked with Tri-County since 2017 to promote public health efforts in the prevention of HIV, hepatitis C, hepatitis A and opioid overdose. Tri-County's HIV prevention team visited the nonprofit on a monthly basis to provide HIV and hepatitis C testing and prevention counseling, risk reduction materials, and harm reduction and overdose prevention supplies to people experiencing homelessness. 

Zimmerman also collaborated many times with the department's immunization team to provide hepatitis A vaccinations to this population, one of the most vulnerable to the Hepatitis A outbreak. Giving Heart also regularly works with other agencies to provide on-site dental care, mental health resources, assistance getting IDs, birth and death certificates, and driver’s licenses, as well as severe weather warming and emergency cold weather shelter assistance.  

"Giving Heart truly does 'Ignite Hope, Invest in Lives, and Impact Communities,' " Douglas said, "and I feel honored to collaborate with Donna and her amazing organization to reach the most vulnerable members of our community."

DeWind was a lead reporter on a team that spent 2018 exploring what mental health looked like in Douglas County. Her work focused on the stigma associated with mental health, barriers to care, youth suicide, maternal and pregnancy-related depression, the effect of technology and social media on our youth, and how mental health issues are affecting the role of law enforcement.

“Alex … has demonstrated a commitment to framing stories that would be heard and make a difference to her readers,” Douglas said. She and Colorado Community Media “have been a vital partner in increasing the conversation regarding mental health.”

DeWind, 26, who has been with Colorado Community Media since 2015, said she was extremely honored by the award.

"This series was, by far, the most meaningful project I’ve contributed to in my career as a journalist," she said. "I got to explore a real, raw side of humanity that we as a society tend to want to hide. What made this series so powerful were the incredibly strong people who were kind enough to share their stories of struggle and triumph around mental health, and the leaders in the public health field who are passionate about finding solutions to the cracks in mental health care."

Other honorees were:

• Michele Ebendick, community outreach and special projects manager for Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD), a statewide nonprofit focused on improving the lives of Colorado children through early identification of developmental needs.

• Michele Irwin and Margie Chilson, account executives at Denver7. Irwin’s personal mental health story engaged Denver7 to think differently about the topic and embrace a partnership with Let’s Talk Colorado during mental health month in May 2018. 

• Mitzi Schindler, director of communications for the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, and board member Aurora Health Alliance, for its strong partnership with Tri-County as an advocate for community services and programs and as a key partner on Tri-County’s Initiative for Workplace Health and Well-being.

• Dr. Kaylin Klie, a passionate advocate and invaluable resource for Tri-County’s Nurse Family Partnership staff, who works with clients struggling with substance use disorders.

• Healthy Farmer’s Market in Thornton, a collaboration among three entities that created a weekly farmers' market in a high-need, food-desert area of Thornton. It also accepted SNAP and WIC as payment, making healthy foods accessible to a lower-income population. The recipients were community volunteer Josh Gardner, Genné Boggs of Anythink Huron Street Library and Aeron Calkins, owner of Lulu’s Farm.

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