HUD's Community and Supportive Services office tapped the Chester Housing Authority to create a two-year pilot program to reduce cardiovascular risk among residents through health education and health-promoting activities. What has ensued has been a remarkable story of a community making measurable change. Through food shopping and cooking education, diet, group exercise, gardening, and group support, residents attend activities to help lose weight, reduce blood pressure, and decrease waist circumference. In ANUME, CHA has articulated as a model program for modifying behavior to reduce cardiovascular vulnerability and improve health prospects among a low-income population.
The Ruth Bennett Community Farm is an educational farm and environmental education center. Recognizing the need for greater food security and community health over the past decade, the Chester Housing Authority created a two-acre community farm on vacant land at the Ruth L. Bennett Homes. We are dedicated to improving access to nutrient dense foods at affordable prices to residents in the immediate Chester Housing Authority community and surrounding neighborhoods. We also provide opportunities for residents of the housing authority and interested public to participate in health and wellness activities, job-readiness and beginning farmer training. We seek to promote a thriving and diverse environmental ecosystem for community members to enjoy.
The initiative began as a support network for community fathers in April 2012. It has become a grassroots focus of reflection and analysis about fatherhood, family stabilization, and the roles of men in communities like Chester. Members are regularly invited to speak at schools and other family support organizations.
The Chester Housing Authority in partnership with Creative Education Opportunities Academy developed the Resident Training Academy to provide residents with virtual and in-person training in healthcare, technology, and personal development. The goal is to provide residents with the skills, support, and motivation to achieve their personal and professional goals. In addition to training, residents attend on-site job fairs where many are hired on the spot.
Inspired by Fathers Are Talking, residents initiated the Women’s Circle in 2013. Meetings focus on the roles and experiences of women in the family and community.
The Chester Housing Authority makes a show of gratitude to the communities which welcome its service during the holiday season. Program partners and staff put on a Holiday Village that has now become a CHA tradition. Participants also collect toys for CHA children through the donations of St. Luke’s Greek Orthodox Church in Broomall.