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MHI Health Pulse - June 2024


June 2024

MHI Updates: Outreach

Dear reader,

Happy Summer! To recap this past month, on May 7, our Booker High School Environmental Justice (EJ) Ambassadors had their Certificate Awards Ceremony with Dr. Merritt and Abbey present. Thank you to Abbey Tyrna, Sarasota Waterkeepers, and Conservation Foundation for joining as partners to develop Environmental Awareness curriculum.

Left to right: Nick Larin, Hong Nguyen, Noah White, Dr. Lisa Merritt, Abbey Tyrna, Jamie Taylor, Annabelle Truong

Later that same weekend on May 11, our EJ Ambassadors participated in a Boat Ride and Shark Tagging event at the 10th Street boat ramp in Sarasota, FL. In addition, our Save the Vets, Save the Bay veterans went kayaking at Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota, FL where they had a wonderful mindfulness circle sharing things they are grateful for followed by cleaning up the waters at Philippi Park with the support of our AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Helen Neal. 

Save the Vets, Save the Bay veterans kayaking at Phillippi Estate Park in Sarasota, FL

On Thursday May 16, MHI was awarded a $6,000 grant by Masala and recognized during the Masala Award Grant Celebration Ceremony for our Healthy Living Program with Sarasota Housing Authority residents and children. Thank you so much to Hedda Matza-Haughton, Dr. Geer, and Judge Hill-Harvey for supporting MHI at this event.

To close out the month, on May 20, our Care Navigator, Ms. Angela Miles, attended the All Faiths Food Bank Partner meeting in Sarasota, FL where they prepared a simple meal with tuna fish and mac and cheese. They also gave their partners a tour of the warehouse and spoke about the community gardens they have set up in Desoto and Sarasota Counties. 

4th from the right: MHI Care Navigator Angela Miles

Overall, this month was filled with an abundance of educational experiences and we are grateful to have our volunteers, care navigators, AmeriCorps VISTA Member, and longstanding partners to help us continue making a positive impact on our community. 

If you or anyone you know would like to volunteer with the Multicultural Health Insititute, please reach out to us at

– The Multicultural Health Institute Team

Upcoming MHI June Events

June 4 - 3rd Annual Black Health Summit - Miami, FL @ 8:30 AM: Experts from health systems, community, and public and private sectors will convene to build strategies and solutions for advancing Black health equity in South Florida. National health policy expert and public health advocate Daniel Dawes will deliver the keynote address, as other State and local leaders map what each of us can do now to drive progress. With an array of outstanding speakers, listeners, and networking opportunities, the Summit aims to highlight a promising future built on data-driven innovations and more collaborative partnerships as we activate South Florida’s solutions together. Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of the movement. Registration is free. Space is limited – please commit to attending when you register! Register here:

June 9 - Stop the Violence Cookout - Sarasota, FL @ 1 PM: The Stop the Violence Cookout was initiated in response to the unfortunate incidents of gun violence that affected Sarasota and Manatee counties in late 2015 and early 2016. Since then, the Streets of Paradise community has united to organize this inclusive event, aiming to reconnect neighbors, friends, small businesses, and local organizations with the shared goal of ending violence in our communities. This event will be vibrant and showcase 24 vendor booths, indoor and outdoor entertainment, complimentary food and drinks, delightful treats like sno cones and cotton candy, engaging activities such as a dunk tank, giveaways, community awards, and blood donation opportunities. Join us on Sunday, June 9, 2024 at 734 Central Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236-4042, United States from 1 PM-5 PM. We hope to see you there!

June 12 - MHI’s Monthly Healing Circle - Bradenton, FL @ 6 PM: June is Men’s Health Month! This month we hope to encourage men and boys to take charge of their health by making healthy lifestyle decisions. Join us for our monthly Healing Circle on Men’s Health with a presentation by David Morse! We look forward to hearing his expertise and hope to see you at Oneco Hope Global Methodist Church (2112 53rd Ave E, Bradenton, FL 34203) or via Zoom on June 11, 2024 @ 6pm! Register here:

June 18 - MHI’s Food Insecurity Screening Program sponsored by All Faiths Food Bank - Sarasota, FL @ 10 AM: Have you fallen upon hard times? Are you in need of assistance with finding consistent sources of food? Do you know someone who could use some help obtaining food? Come by the MHI office to receive a small food pack and a referral to All Faiths Food Bank where they can help you navigate resources throughout the county. An MHI representative will be in our Goodwill Office every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month from 10 AM to 2 PM to assist you with this process. Come meet us at the Newtown Goodwill at 1781 Dr. Martin Luther King Way Sarasota, Florida 34234. 

June 22 - Juneteenth Event on Dr. Martin Luther King Way - North Sarasota, FL

National Observances: Men’s Health Month

Men’s Health Month encourages men and boys to take charge of their health by making healthy lifestyle decisions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13.2% of men aged 18 and over are in fair or poor health.

Here are some tips to help men take control of their overall health and wellness.

  • Get regular checkups. Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about having a physical or wellness check each year. Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and weight to catch potentially dangerous conditions early and get proper care, if needed. You can also use the MyHealthfinder tool to get personalized preventive services recommendations.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, and lean sources of protein. Limit foods high in saturated and trans fats and avoid foods with added sugar and sodium. Refer to MyPlate to find out exactly how much and what foods you need based on your height, weight, age, and physical activity level.

  • Be active. Any activity is better than no activity. You can stay motivated by choosing physical activities you enjoy. Visit the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Move Your Way Activity Planner to set goals and get personalized tips to help you stay motivated.

  • Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. Quitting smoking improves your health and reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and other smoking-related illnesses.

  • Limit alcohol consumption. Limiting alcohol can reduce your risk of long-term health risks. Check out the CDC’s Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol for more information.

  • Manage stress. Taking steps to reduce stress can lower your risk of other conditions like heart disease, obesity, high-blood pressure, and depression.

To learn more, visit the HHS Men: Take Charge of Your Health page. Always consult with your physician before starting any new diet or exercise plan.

 Current News Updates

Environmental Justice: 

They’re fighting polluters destroying historically Black towns – starting with their own

By. Anya Groner for The Guardian

“When Joy and Jo Banner founded the Descendants Project in 2020, they didn’t expect to be defending their hometown first

When twin sisters Joy and Jo Banner founded their non-profit, the Descendants Project, in 2020, their goal was to protect the Black-founded “freetowns” in Louisiana’s river parishes. Like the Banners’ hometown of Wallace, many of the Black communities that abut the lower Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans were founded after emancipation by people who’d once been enslaved.

Today, decades of disinvestment have left freetowns vulnerable to predatory development, land theft and industrialization. The Banners hoped to reverse those trends. Yet within weeks of creating their organization, their purpose shifted dramatically. Instead of supporting other Black communities, the twins found themselves fighting for their own hometown’s survival. Wallace, population 1,240, was facing an existential threat in the form of the proposed construction of a gargantuan grain-export terminal, the latest in an onslaught of industrial growth along the lower Mississippi River. The terminal would “drain us of all of our resources and all of our quality of life”, Joy said. “The overall goal is to run all of us out.”

Across the South, freetowns – also called Black-founded towns or freedom colonies – are fighting similar kinds of encroachment. Helmed by Black men and women looking to escape slavery and white supremacy, freetowns functioned as autonomous communities, producing their own food and governance and even providing relative safety during the Jim Crow era. Now, many are in the untenable position of having to advocate for their right to have a future. Often, this means uncovering lost histories and genealogies, seeking protection through historic registries and battling local governments, developers and corporations in court. For advocates like the Banners, the effort to maintain a stable status quo can be exhausting.

Halfway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Wallace is a quiet community. Small houses line gravel streets that start at the Mississippi River and recede into the abundant farmland. Mammoth live oaks stretch across verdant lawns. The Whitney plantation – now a museum dedicated to educating the public about the institution and legacies of slavery – sits on one side and just upriver is Laura plantation, a tourist destination that bills itself as a “Creole heritage site”. The Banners’ ancestors were enslaved at both.

Since 2021, Greenfield Louisiana LLC has been pushing to construct a 250-acre grain terminal directly beside Wallace’s Black neighborhoods, with some buildings located within 2,000ft of residences. (Parish law requires industrial buildings to be at least 2,000ft from residential developments with at least one house per acre, but interpretation of this law is contested. In a written statement to the Guardian, a rep for Greenfield LLC said the closest Greenfield structures would be 500ft from homes.) The facility, which would include a mammoth grain elevator nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty and 54 storage silos, would transfer and store grain from river barges and load it onto ocean tankers. According to an impact study the Banners commissioned, the proposed buildings are so tall that the neighborhood wouldn’t get morning sunlight until at least 9am and residents would no longer be able to see the sunrise. “[We are] a Black community being literally overshadowed,” said Joy.

Environmental Justice - Air Quality

There is a groundswell of effort, policy shifts and funding being directed towards historically vulnerable communities to address the greater impact of decades upon decades of environmental injustices and associated health impacts. Further possible research projects are underway and we look forward to strengthening data sources with our recently placed “Purple Air” monitors throughout North Sarasota. We appreciate the opportunity to find ways to keep going through a variety of collaborative partnerships and possible additional funding. Meanwhile, keep on reducing, reusing, recycling wherever and whenever you can. 

You can also track fluctuations of fine particulate matter in the Manasota Region and see the real time readout of the Fine Particulate count here:

Given the ongoing Environmental Health Challenges impacting our state and nation, We know the importance of advancing community efforts with emphasis on education, individual and collective action to do what we can however we can.  Getting more air, water and soil monitoring in our area is now an active goal in process. Learn about the Environmental Impacts and steps you and your family can take to improve your health in our recent report and consider joining the Environmental Collaborative, reach out to You can read the entire convening report here, and if you or your organization would like us to make a personalized presentation for your organization summarizing the findings, data updates and emerging recommendations, please submit a request to

Eleanor’s Portico of Arts

Jun 6-9, 2024

$289 | Members save 10%

This interdisciplinary symposium explores wonder as a source of creative inspiration, artistic medium, and physical and social well-being. Join us for the full symposium or catch the not-to-be-missed keynote sessions, open to the public. For more information and to register, please visit

If you like our work and reading our newsletter, we welcome your continued support!

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Sarasota Office:

1781 Dr. Martin Luther King Way

Sarasota, Florida 34234

Office: 941-906-9484

Fax: 941-225-8198

Oneco Office :

Oneco Hope Global Methodist Church

2112 53rd Ave. East, Apt. 4 & 5

Bradenton, FL 34203

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