Social determinants of health — important factors that influence overall health — are being recognized more and more as areas where our efforts can truly lift people to wellness and into positions where they can meet their goals. Reducing unemployment, food insecurity and housing instability undeniably improve health and economic stability.
When we lift communities to a more equitable status with their neighbors, those hardships are replaced with opportunities.
Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania provides leadership and advocacy for Erie region’s residents and builds partnerships to develop opportunities for personal growth and neighborhood revitalization. Their Neighborhood Network Program (NPP), supported by Highmark, serves some of Erie’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, which historically suffer from decay, lack of community organization, low educational attainment, high poverty rates, and high crime rates or the perception of high crime.The program was a natural fit for Highmark, which has a long history of supporting efforts to reduce housing instability.
As part of a group of NPP funding partners, Highmark made a six-year commitment to improve housing stability and beautification in areas surrounding Allegheny Health Network’s St. Vincent Hospital, which was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph. In that period, SSJ purchased and renovated six blighted homes for use in the Genesis Homeownership Development project (three single-family homes and three multi-family) to create and support affordable housing. Additionally, they purchased and removed 12 blighted properties — replacing them with green spaces — added 29 public art installations, and implemented a complete neighborhood façade improvement project, resulting in updated appearances to 69 properties.
The goal was to improve housing stability in Erie’s historic Little Italy, and to make it a more attractive place for current and new residents, businesses, and visitors.
Our veterans dedicate years of their lives through their service, but their sacrifice often extends far beyond the base or battlefield. Among the many obstacles America’s veterans face is hunger. A recent USDA report found greater than 1 in 10 veterans aged 18 to 64 live in households facing food insecurity, and the risk of food insecurity is 7.4% higher among veterans than nonveterans. The figures, unsurprisingly, increase in low-income households.
It is our duty to ensure that those who give so much of themselves can live healthy lives upon completing their service.
Highmark supported Central Pennsylvania Food Bank MilitaryShare and senior programs in late 2022, building on a long history of support for the organization through senior food boxes, backpack programs and other efforts.
Not unlike a well-organized armed forces operation, MilitaryShare is an efficient mobile pantry, bringing food for distribution to armories, VFWs, American Legions, and other veteran- and military-affiliated locations across the region. The locations create a welcoming culture of respect, inclusion and belonging, as veterans serve veterans. At the monthly distributions, families receive approximately 60 pounds of food items, including fresh produce, fresh milk, eggs, cheese and shelf-stable pantry items, such as soup, pasta sauce and cereal. When available, families also receive fresh meat, fish and poultry products.
Our latest donation came just ahead of the holiday season, underwriting the cost for two distributions. Even better, Highmark employees participated in a Lycoming County distribution where 500 veterans and families received meals.
“To receive a gift like this for having served is a wonderful, wonderful thing, and I greatly appreciate it. It certainly does supplement our weekly food allotment that we have to purchase, and thereby decreases the amount of expenses that we have in our home.”
All references to “Highmark” in this document are references to the Highmark company that is providing the member’s health benefits or health benefit administration and/or to one or more of its affiliated Blue companies. This website is operated by Highmark, Inc. and is not the Health Insurance Marketplace website. It also does not display all Qualified Health Plans available through the Health Insurance Marketplace website. To see all available Qualified Health Plan options, go to the Health Insurance Marketplace website at HealthCare.gov.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield or Highmark Blue Shield are Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, and/or Part D plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in these plans depends on contract renewal. ®Blue Cross, Blue Shield and the Cross and Shield symbols are registered service marks of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Benefits and/or benefit administration may be provided by or through the following entities, which are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association: Western and Northeastern PA: Highmark Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Highmark Choice Company, Highmark Health Insurance Company, Highmark Coverage Advantage Inc., Highmark Benefits Group Inc., First Priority Health, First Priority Life or Highmark Senior Health Company. Central and Southeastern PA: Highmark Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Shield, Highmark Benefits Group Inc., Highmark Health Insurance Company, Highmark Choice Company or Highmark Senior Health Company. PA: Your plan may not cover all your health care expenses. Read your plan materials carefully to determine which health care services are covered. For more information, call the number on the back of your member ID card or, if not a member, call 866-459-4418. Delaware: Highmark BCBSD Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. West Virginia: Highmark West Virginia Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Highmark Health Insurance Company or Highmark Senior Solutions Company. Visit our website to view the Access Plan required by the Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act. You may also request a copy by contacting us at the number on the back of your ID card. Western NY: Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Northeastern NY: Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Shield.
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