SC CTSI facilitates successful kick-off meeting for the Nickerson Gardens Coordinating Council

SC CTSI held its kick-off meeting for the Nickerson Gardens Coordinating Council, marking the commencement of a dedicated initiative to tackle healthcare challenges in the Nickerson Gardens community and initiate the provision of essential services.

By Andrea Diaz — February 02, 2024

The Community Engagement (CE) core group at the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (SC CTSI) held its kick-off meeting for the Nickerson Gardens Coordinating Council on Tuesday, January 23, 2024. Representatives from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles Dream Center Foundation, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, United States Department of Justice, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Epiphany Counseling Center, and other organizations, alongside residents, attended the kick-off meeting. This gathering marked the start of a concerted effort to address the healthcare challenges within the Nickerson Gardens community.

Photo by Andrea Diaz

“The Coordinating Council was developed to promote health equity through the collaboration of both residents at Nickerson Gardens and service providing organizations,” said Nicole Wolfe, Ph.D., Co-Director of Community Engagement. “This is an opportunity to create a space for residents to have a say in the services that come to their community as they are the ones who know what is needed.”

As a part of SC CTSI's place-based approach initiative, the meeting builds upon the discussions from the November 2023 Nickerson Gardens Town Hall. In that meeting, community residents and partners engaged in dialogue about the community's health needs, informed by the eight confidential listening sessions hosted by SC CTSI in the summer of 2023.

Tyrone Nance, Lead Community Outreach Specialist, and Nicole Wolfe, PhD, Co-Director of Community Engagement, kicked off the meeting with opening remarks, additional information about the initiative and the objectives and goals for the Coordinating Council.

The meeting included an interactive activity involving four large posters hanging on the walls on either side of the room. Participants engaged by using sticky notes to contribute ideas under categories such as "Existing Services," which detailed services already provided in Nickerson Gardens, "Services that Could Be Brought In," for suggesting potential offerings from their organizations, "Perceived Needs," highlighting necessities identified at the town hall meeting and other beneficial services, and "Challenges Bringing Services," noting obstacles like safety, accessibility, communication issues, and funding constraints.

Following the activity, Nance and Wolfe reviewed the notes from each topic, promoting further discussion among the council members.

Participants expressed an interest in a strategy combining resident engagement and community collaboration with a focus on robust and creative data collection and analysis to measure impact and change over time.

“To help achieve this, we plan to work closely with organizations and community partners to streamline data collection, ensuring accurate and comprehensive insights into the services being used,” said Brian Do-Golden, MPH, Research and Evaluation Analyst for Community Engagement.

Tracking the types of services utilized will guide the Council in identifying health-related outcome measures to focus on.

“The intention of this initiative goes beyond how often a service is used, we aim to understand the actual improvements in residents' health conditions and lives,” he added.

Photo by Andrea Diaz

Qawve Baugh, Outreach Coordinator at Los Angeles Dream Center Foundation, who has been serving the community of Nickerson Gardens for five years, voiced a deep understanding of the importance of consistency in community work.

“One thing that I’ve noticed is the power of consistency. Being able to come out here for years now, I have been able to cultivate a lot of different relationships with people. Now I feel like I have lifelong relationships with individuals here because they trust me,” he said.

Chica Caldwell, a resident and community leader of Nickerson Gardens, shared her aspiration to impact the Coordinating Council, leveraging her understanding of the community's most pressing needs.

“I hope the Council understands and feels my passion for where I’m coming from,” she said, “I hope that when they go back to their organizations and reflect on what we talked about today, they start thinking about the services that can be provided.”

The Coordinating Council will continue its monthly meetings at Nickerson Gardens. CE has outlined action items for the Council to prepare before their second meeting on February 20, 2024, encouraging them to determine the services and resources their organizations can offer, evaluate the possibility of their involvement in the Council, and has requested a minimum one-year commitment.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.