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Helping the Homeless
It’s estimated that nearly 3 million people in the U.S., including 1.3 million children, experience
homelessness each year. The figures are just as alarming for North Carolina. In a 2008 survey conducted
by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, 20% of children and nearly 30% of families were
reported as homeless in more than 55 counties across our state. As many struggle to obtain the basic
essentials such as food and shelter, it’s difficult for most if not all of this population to maintain a
healthy lifestyle. Find out what one of our RICHES (Resources in Communities Help Encourage Solutions)
partners is doing in Durham to reach out to those in need.
Renee Parks‐Bryant, RICHES network member and Health
Education Specialist for the Durham County Health
Department, has a passion for helping those who are not
able to help themselves, especially the homeless. For nearly
17 years, Parks‐Bryant has worked within Durham’s
Maternal and Child Health Department in the OB clinic.
She’s worked with countless women and their families;
however over the years one particular client has stood out.
“I will never forget one of my former clients,” she said. “She
was homeless and being served by the Urban Ministries of
Durham at the time. She called me one day and thanked
me for the services I provided during her pregnancy. She is
now employed and is living happily in the Triad area.”
Parks‐Bryant is hoping to reach more disadvantaged individuals using the new Health Journal Tool Kit
developed by the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation. “Just because they may not be as fortunate
enough to have the very things we take for granted, doesn’t mean they should be deprived of
information that could otherwise keep them healthy,” she said.
The Health Journal Tool Kit was developed to use with community groups and in one‐on‐one settings.
The easy to use flipchart is a great conversation starter about recommended check‐ups, ways to be
physically and emotionally healthier, knowing your family’s health history, and lifestyle issues that
impact health. Two companion pieces My Health Journal (for women) and the Body Maintenance
Manual” (for men) give individuals a way to learn and record their personal health information and
On May 22nd Parks‐Bryant presented the Health Journal Toolkit at the 2nd Annual Beloved Community
Resource Fair hosted by the Urban Ministries of Durham. This annual resource fair and picnic connects
underserved individuals and their families with local community‐based and faith‐based organizations
providing health and financial services information. Nearly 350 individuals including men, women and
young children attended the event. Parks‐Bryant said many were intrigued by the Health Journal Tool Kit
“Many participants felt that it was a useful resource,” she said. “Many stated that
they can now keep all of their health information in one place.” As a health educator
Parks‐Bryant said she felt it was particularly important to point out the significance of
getting routine check‐ups and to keep track of their blood pressure and any warning
signs related to heart disease or diabetes. She said many of the fair’s attendees are
getting back on their feet thanks to the help of Urban
Ministries and other local organizations. She wants to make
sure that not only do they get back on track financially but
physically as well.
Before the event was over, Parks‐Bryant said she distributed nearly 20 My
Health Journals and Body Maintenance Manuals to the public. She said she
looks forward to presenting the Health Journal Tool Kit at the next annual
Beloved Community Resource Fair.
“They all deserve a second chance at life,” she said. “No one should be left
behind and surely not forgotten.”