Health District outreach slates events for residents

By Stacy Kess

January 28, 2014

Linda Diamond wanted to get the word out.

The development officer at the Delaware General Health District said she found many people in the community didn’t know exactly what the DGHD did, so when she returned to the DGHD after a short retirement in 2001, she looked into developing an outreach program.

The result is Friends for Life, an informational presentation that she calls “friend-making,” and the health district is inviting the community to join in any of the upcoming programs in February, March or April.

So far, she said, 800 to 900 people have attended Friends for Life tours of the DGHD.

“A lot of people wonder why (DGHD is) here,” she said. “I really wanted people to know about our wonderful staff because we’re extremely dedicated.”

The hour-long presentation and tour of the buildings introduces participants to staff and programs run by the DGHD. It also explains the Friends for Life fundraising effort.

“A lot of health districts have something on the side, a foundation,” said health commissioner Shelia Hiddleson. “But this really isn’t about fundraising. It’s about spreading the word.”

Friends for Life is a 501c3 fundraising entity for the DGHD with a separate board of directors from the DGHD. Diamond said the tours do not require donations and are not asking for money. That’s why she refers to it as “friend-making.” The tours culminate in a Friends for Life fundraising breakfast in October that also presents a breakdown of the previous years funds.

“We all like to give,” Hiddleson said. “But we want to know what it’s used for.”

Together, the Friends for Life presentations and breakfast create a knowledge in the community about the DGHD, its services and its funding, Diamond said. It also creates a connection with the community.

“Sometimes we don’t know how we’re helping people, but we’re out there helping people,” she said. They don’t do it for “fame or glory or anything else, but because if we can spread the word of what we do, we can save lives and keep the community healthy.”

Upcoming Friends for Life tours are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Feb. 25, March 25 and April 22. Tours are open to any member of the community; RSVP to the DGHD is not required but encouraged, Diamond said.