Healthcare Leading to More Positive Urban Environments
"The vision of Operation H.O.P.E., Inc. is to help those who cannot help themselves by restoring their dignity, respecting their gifts and talents, and empowering them to rebuild their lives. Operation H.O.P.E., Inc. exists to provide comprehensive solutions to populations that are typically forgotten by society such as the homeless, orphans/foster children, senior citizens, prisoners, inner-city, and the oppressed people worldwide." (Operation H.O.P.E. website, http://www.operationhopeinc.com/#!about_us/csgz)
Healthcare is often thought of as a reactive step rather than a proactive step in curbing behavior. The impact of healthcare on the community and environment, however, is undeniable. More affluent urban areas tend to have better access to quality healthcare than less affluent areas. This is due to financial, geographic, and behavioral issues among others. What if there was a way to use healthcare to change the philosophy of the community?
Operation H.O.P.E. aims to do just that. Opened in 2009, this non-profit offers free medical clinics to underserviced/ignored populations such as homeless, orphans, and the LGBT community. In lieu of payment, they ask for a "pay if forward" write up describing something of good that the patient did for the community. For example, there are people who helped decorate community centers for Christmas, make sure single moms are taking care of themselves along with their kids, and were proactive in some faith based community projects. This pay it forward concept means that not only are people getting the help they need, but they are giving that help to others along the way.
Community is a word thrown around a lot and often means small towns in rural America, affluent suburbs, or even small apartment complexes. You just don't hear it very often when talking about low-income areas. Operation H.O.P.E. is attempting to build a community around its healthcare clinic, and maybe building communities around a central idea could be used to make other low income areas safer.
You can read some of the 'pay it forward' notes here: http://www.operationhopeinc.com/#!pay-it-forward/c24bs