Apache Junction already has a wide variety of health and wellness assets — they just need to be easier to find, a community forum decided Wednesday.
Roger Hacker, the grants coordinator for Apache Junction, said the city got the idea to evaluate its health and wellness services and facilities from Scottsdale, which found through its communitywide study that teenage drinking was a major health issue. Apache Junction officials thought that they, too, could identify community health and wellness needs, and consider those issues when applying for grants, Hacker said.
Apache Junction has worked for the last year on an application for one of the St. Luke’s health initiatives grants available to Arizona communities.
It could provide the city with up to $4 million over the next five years to improve its health services.
A group of about 80 residents and government officials participated in the review Wednesday morning at John Calvin Presbyterian Church.
The group said the city should produce a comprehensive guide of its available health and wellness assets and make it readily available.
Attendees included two Democratic state legislators — Rep. Pete Rios of Hayden and Sen. Rebecca Rios of Apache Junction, along with several high-ranking officials in the city government and several residents.
The participants were split into over a dozen groups and then asked to identify what they felt were the greatest health and wellness needs.
A guide to community assets emerged as the top priority, followed by improved transportation and a regional hospital.
Hacker said that the asset guide could take the shape of a simple directory or Web site, but it could develop into a marketing effort, a network of local agencies or even more community forums.
He said funding for the guide could come through a grant or through a local agency, such as Central Arizona Community College, which could use it as part of their curriculum.
Hacker said members of the forum would also emerge with an idea of whom they could turn to when problems or questions arose.
“It’s the information, but it’s also the networking,” he said.
Pete Rios said events such as the Apache Junction assessment helped local politicians stay in touch with their constituents. As he left, the legislator said he felt as if community members had successfully identified both their assets and needs.
Ruthie Catherine-West, who retired from Boeing and is now a Gold Canyon homemaker, sat at a table with Pinal County Supervisor Sandie Smith, D-District 2.
Catherine-West said she appreciated the opportunity to tackle tough issues facing her community — right alongside the region’s top decision-makers.
“I found it very challenging, but I’m a retired executive, so I love a challenge,” she said.