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MHI Health Pulse - April 2024


April 2024

MHI Updates

Dear reader,

On April Fool’s Day, we hope that you take care of yourself by cracking a joke, watching a comedy, or simply reminiscing on the things that make you laugh and smile. We are choosing to take this time to remember the amazing events and people we have been able to impact – and have impacted us – this past March, and ask for your kind support to help us continue to do so. 

On March 7 we hosted our last installment of the MHI Lifestyle Change Program: Nutritional Education Program sponsored by Feeding Tampa Bay. If we are fortunate to raise additional funding, we look forward to hosting more nutritional education series in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Meanwhile, we encourage those facing food insecurities to join us on the 1st and 4th Tuesday of each month at the MHI offices in the Goodwill building on 1781 Dr Martin Luther King Way, Sarasota, FL 34234 to receive a few free meals and referral to our longstanding partner All Faiths Food Bank for help with access to other resources. You can also call our care coordination hotline 941.906.9484 for more information.

A few days later on March 9, we attended the Panel discussion organized by Mary Braxton-Joseph and UNIFEM including filmmakers and MHI board member Dr Washington Hill, following a riveting screening of "The Fight To Save Black Lives". This event was sobering but validating of the MHI work that has been done for the past 30+ years and we continue to do today. Furthermore, MHI Health Navigators Darlene Brown and Crystal Johnson enjoyed seeing visual confirmation of the important work that they do, and an unfortunate reminder of similar life experiences endured. We remain hopeful for funding and administrative support to become a certifying agency to help many others learn to do so too. Happening simultaneously nearby, MHI Vista Volunteer, Helen Neal, coordinated with our Vets Nature Nurture kayaking project. She and Dr. Weddle, MHI’s Director of Wellness, will also be working with them on Mind-Body resilience and individual care navigation skills. 

On March 11, our MHI Health Navigators Bonnie Hardy, Angela Miles, and Darlene Brown assisted by generous support of The Patterson Foundation, provided a Digital Navigation training with 20 residents from Sarasota Housing. That day we also finalized our resilience and coping partnership plan with All Faiths Food Bank and were also able to offer food security information to participants. On March 14, we celebrated the culmination of Heather Dunhill and Sarasota Magazine’s 4 year “Listening to Black Voices” project at the Sarasota Arts Center. 

In addition, The Multicultural Health Institute partnered with the Bradenton/Sarasota Florida Chapter of the Links Incorporated for the first Black Family Wellness Expo on March 16 at Light of the World Church. We were able to gather over 300 community members to explore and learn from a multitude of community health partners across Bradenton and Sarasota! Lastly, on March 29, we ended the month at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex for the Job and Health Fair for teenagers and adults hosted by Safe Children’s Coalition, HIPPY Sarasota, and the City of Sarasota. Our MHI Navigator Angela Miles works extensively with the HIPPY Sarasota program and we are very proud of the work that she continues to do throughout the community. 

The week of March 11 through 15, Sarasota was treated with the positive presence of “Father Paul” in a series of uplifting discussions and strategy planning sessions. We applaud partners, Fogartyville, Mosaic Movement, Sarasota Strong, the Unitarian Universalist Church, Leonard Reid House, and many others for a week celebrating unity in the theme of  Coming Together in Community: Applying the Lessons of Trauma and Resilience.

Thank you to all of our partners that we have worked with thus far and to the Manatee and Sarasota communities for entrusting us to listen to your needs and act on them. With sufficient funding, we look forward to continuing to engage and educate vulnerable populations throughout the remainder of the year with more lectures, screenings, and future community health information events. 

You can support us in this mission by contributing to our Giving Challenge donation drive.

Noon to noon April 9 - 10, visit our Giving Challenge page and make a donation to MHI and/or to any of our great participating nonprofit partners in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties. Check the MHI Dashboard for some of our collaborative partners you may also wish to support. We all need it now more than ever.

Donations will be doubled through the generous support of the Patterson Foundation. 

All giving will end at 11:59 AM on April 10, so please make sure to get your gift in on time!

Please check out our website,, for more resources and information.

– The Multicultural Health Institute Team

National Observances: National Minority Health Month

This national health observance, celebrated each year during the month of April, raises awareness on health disparities that affect populations of racial and ethnic minorities. Through education and preventive screening, MHI works to reduce these disparities.

One might assume that in the United States, everyone has equal access to health services and equal quality of health services, however, this is not the case as shown by:

  • In 2019, non-Hispanic blacks were twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes.

  • In 2018, African American adults were 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.

  • In 2019, non-Hispanic blacks were 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized with diabetes and associated long-term complications than non-Hispanic whites.

  • In 2019, non-Hispanic blacks were 3.2 times more likely to be diagnosed with end stage renal disease as compared to non-Hispanic whites.

During 2019-2021, the average infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) in the United States was highest for Black infants (10.5), followed by American Indian/Alaska Natives (5.3), Hispanics (4.8), Whites (4.4) and Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.6). Black/African American people have higher death rates than all other racial/ethnic groups for many, although not all, cancer types. Despite having slightly lower incidence rates of breast cancer than those of White women, Black/African American women are more likely than White women to die of the disease. The incidence rates of colorectal, lung, and cervical cancers are much higher in people who live in rural Appalachia than in those who live in urban areas in the region. Although deaths from prostate cancer have dropped substantially in recent decades among all men, Black/African American men are more than twice as likely as White men to die of prostate cancer and continue to have the highest prostate cancer mortality rates among all US racial/ethnic groups.

Unfortunately, there are many other health disparities based on race and ethnicity. For more information on this national health observance, visit:

For a tool that allows one to see the U.S.’ national health disparities based on different disparity types or leading health indicators, visit:

Upcoming MHI April Events

3 & 4 - All of Us Researchers Convention - Virtual @ 11 AM: This free, virtual event showcases the latest research using the All of Us dataset. The National Institutes of Health's All of Us Research Program is a historic effort to collect and study data from at least one million people living in the United States. The goal of All of Us is to speed up health research discoveries, enabling new kinds of individualized health care. This research would not be possible without the generous contributions of All of Us participants and our community partners like you who are helping raise awareness about the program. We hope you’ll attend the convention to see how researchers are using All of Us data to advance health research. 

Learn more and register at!

6 - Orange Blossom Community Garden Neighborhood Health Day - Sarasota, FL @ 10 AM: Get active and join the Sarasota Department of Health and MHI for an Orange Blossom Community Garden day of health screenings, gardening, food trucks, and more! Join us in person at the Orange Blossom Community Garden at 1822 North Orange Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34234 from 10am to 2pm. 

**Interested in becoming a member of the garden and possibly receiving a FREE garden plot scholarship? Please visit this site for the application and more information:

10 - MHI’s Healing Circle - Bradenton, FL @ 6 PM: April is Autism Acceptance Month. Let’s celebrate the unique perspectives of people with autism. Together, we can create a more inclusive world. Join us for our monthly Healing Circle on Autism Acceptance with a presentation by Dr. Stacy Greeter! We look forward to hearing her expertise and hope to see you at Oneco Hope Global Methodist Church (2112 53rd Ave E, Bradenton, FL 34203) or via Zoom on April 10, 2024 @ 6pm! Register here:

For more information on autism, please visit

17 - Disaster Preparedness Community Resilience Training - Sarasota, FL @ 10 AM: Stay vigilant and join MHI, HIPPY Sarasota, and the American Red Cross in discussing the importance of disaster preparedness and its role in community resilience. Join us in person at the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church at 2504 Gillespie Ave, Sarasota, FL 34234. 

 Current News Updates

  • By. Lisa Merritt, MD

Read about the plundering of US hospitals, one of many factors destabilizing our entire healthcare system and disrupting delivery of care. Being licensed in 8 states and providing services at the frontlines of vulnerable and underserved communities across the country is an eye-opening experience. To helplessly observe the devastation wrought by the pandemic and fractionating by profit healthcare systems is despicable and horrifying. Through Women's Eyes Film Festival and the upcoming Sarasota Film Festival help visualize the challenges impacting us. Their powerful messages particularly in "The Fight to Save Black Lives" and "Xtrillion"  were profoundly moving and affirmative of the work of MHI and other female-led community action organizations. X Trillion was about a female-led research ship measuring a large vortex of toxic plastic fragments concentrating in the seas and bellies of wildlife and ultimately our own bodies. There is a global effort in April when 175 countries will convene to create a global treaty and action plan to reduce plastic pollution. Winnie Lau of the Preventing Ocean Plastics Project at Pew Charitable Trust notes “It’s not about whether it’s realistic or not. It’s about whether we as a society, as a global community, want to solve this problem. It’s a matter of will.” More info at  

 "Undivide Us" described how much more alike we are than different, and how people can still have civil discourse when algorithms and anonymity are removed, especially when they pause to consider the other person's point of view and motivations for that point of view. 

As we continue through MHI in our "fight to save all lives", especially focusing on vulnerable populations such as senior citizens, women, children, BIPOC, and LGTBQ people, we ask for your support- financially, spiritually, and through actionable allyship. You can support us in this mission by contributing to our Giving Challenge donation drive. Noon to noon April 9 - 10, visit our Giving Challenge page and make a donation to us and/or to any of the great participating nonprofit organizations in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, and DeSoto counties. All giving will end at 11:59 AM on April 10, so make sure to get your gift in on time!

If more of us do the right things, including speaking up when and where we can, in conversations among family, friends, and co-workers, we could make this a better world for all. 

Environmental Justice - Air Quality

  • On March 1, Our VISTA Volunteer Ms. Helen & our Director of Wellness Dr. Weddle gave a presentation on resilience and coping as part of our ongoing collaboration with Sarasota Waterkeepers at Booker High School to educate and inspire young people about environmental concerns and the importance of connection to the environment as part of self-care. 

  • 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

  • On March 10, 2024, Dr. Lisa Merritt and Eleanor Merritt Fellow Jevon Brown attended Through Women's Eyes film festival and the Impact Exhibit at Sarasota Art Museum. This was a great opportunity to see prior MHI Arts Champion and Ringling Artist in Residence John Sims work included. 

  • MHI has enjoyed supporting Sarasota Magazine's great journalistic coverage over the years, including the 4 year "Listening to Black Voices" project led by Heather Dunhill and captured by Michael Kinsey. 

Left to right: Heather Dunhill and Dr. Lisa Merritt; Dr. Lisa Merritt and Michael Kinsey (Photographer); Gayle Fulton Ross 

  • The has a great lineup from April 5-10, 2024. This includes on April 6 - A Maternal Health Documentary with Panel and Audience Discussion - Sarasota, FL @ 1 PM: Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County and MHI in discussing the importance of maternal health within the African American community. Join us in person at the Ringling College of Art and Design at 2700 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34234.

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

You can make one time or recurring donations here:

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

Phone: 941-906-9484

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