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MHI Health Pulse - May 2024


May 2024

MHI Updates: Outreach

Dear reader,

April, once again by Grace, was an amazing month filled with efforts on multiple fronts in honoring the background theme of the importance of Minority Health.

Our amazing team of longstanding, committed MHI Safekeepers volunteered to keep going despite limited resources, and co-develop innovative strategies to best continue educating, provide preventive screenings, and continue to assist people in care coordination and navigation.

We are grateful for the efforts of our AmeriCorps VISTA Member Helen Neal and stalwart supporting partner organizations at Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota and Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center for helping with expanding our volunteer pool and continued shared efforts to educate, prevent, and elevate health equity concerns into ongoing regular dialogues. 

We acknowledged the many years of service and solidarity of Arlene Sweeting and David Beaton at the Rooted in Community Celebration. We wish them well, and ask for community support of their upcoming endeavors.

We celebrate Earth Day each April which gives us the opportunity to highlight and strengthen our years of commitment to Environmental Health as another pillar of social determinants of health. Applause to colleague Andre Mcclerklin, Jr. at SDOH, Barbara Powell Harris, and Orange Blossom Community Garden for kicking off Minority Health Month in the garden and being ever receptive to our ongoing efforts to educate about environmental and nutritional health. MHI provided blood pressure checks and health education at the Orange Blossom Garden Health Fair and Neighborhood Day held on April 6, overall, it was a great community event with the Sarasota Health Department and several of our longstanding community partners. 

Our care coordination navigator, Angie, in collaboration with Ms. Jone and the Safe Children Coalition HIPPY Group have been co-creating ongoing curriculum helping to uplift members of the Parenting program. We recently took advantage of relationships with the Patterson Foundation for Digital Navigation training, and through our MOU with the American Red Cross we held a Disaster Preparedness event with Melissa Earhart at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on April 17, 2024 which provided 30 participants with disaster education and preparedness kits. 

Left to right: Melissa Ehrhardt and Angela Miles

In addition, on April 20, the MHI Nature Nurture Vets Kayaking program held a Clean up at State Road 64 Boat Ramp. Prior to the clean up, AmeriCorps VISTA Member Helen Neal led the vets in a mindfulness exercise and introduced them to a medical workbook that can help them organize all of their medical affairs which peaked their interest in receiving one for themselves. Furthermore, we are happy to note that in recognition of our outstanding and crucial impacts, Project Hope is providing additional funding to do a demonstration project on Environmental Health that we hope will evolve to be a standard module in our Community Health Worker Certification training program.

We are pleased to have been awarded a grant from Masala Giving Circle 2024. This grant will allow us to support the Healthy Living Classes program we will be starting this summer 2024 at the Sarasota Housing Authorities 2 housing locations - Janie’s Garden and Orange Ave - to educate youth and parents on healthy eating, exercise, and diabetes prevention.

We also saw great work with the Gulf Coast Medical Society whose dedicated members continue to serve as great role models and assist with school physicals in the Booker System. Members of our organizations are also the face of health disparities, while we build capacity in pursuit of our PEARLS of excellence (prevention, education, advocacy, research, linkage to care, sustainability).

Left to right: Dr. Rose Goncalves, Dr. Washington Hill, Dr. Coeurlida Louis Ashby

We appreciate your support, the recent incredible generosity of the Giving Partner Challenge and our many champions, that permit us to keep doing the best we can as best we can.

– The Multicultural Health Institute Team

Upcoming MHI MayEvents

May 12-18 - National Women’s Health Week: Every May beginning on Mother’s Day, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) leads National Women’s Health Week (NWHW). This year, NWHW takes place May 12 -18. This observance highlights women's health issues and priorities and encourages women of all ages to prioritize their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Join us on this journey as we dive into everything that makes women’s health so important. Read more at

May 16 - Shining a Light on Maternal Mental Health: Signs, Symptoms, and Support for Postpartum Depression Webinar - Virtual @ 2 PM EST: Join the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health on Thursday, May 16, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. ET for their webinar, Shining a Light on Maternal Mental Health: Signs, Symptoms, and Support for Postpartum Depression. This live event will answer frequently asked questions about postpartum depression (PPD) for those who may be experiencing or at risk for PPD. Attendees will hear from leading experts in the field and women with lived experience as they discuss signs and symptoms of PPD, the disparities that exist in maternal mental health care for underserved and underrepresented communities, the importance of support from loved ones, and resources to help women and families who may be looking for support. This webinar is free and open to the public. Register at this Zoom link or if the webinar reaches its attendee capacity, watch in real-time on the HHS Live Streaming Channel

May 21 - 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 food 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. 

May 28 - Newtown CHAT Spring Walking Tour - Sarasota, FL @ 10:30 AM: Participate in a Walking Tour to get active and provide key observations from your community. Your observations will be used to inform our Community Health Assessment. All the materials will be provided including pencils, clipboards, and printouts; so, all you need to do is come out and wear comfortable shoes! If you are not able to join us in Newtown on May 28th, feel free to do the Walking Tour on your own time and email or you can deliver your survey to the Health Promotions office at Department Of Health in Sarasota County at 2200 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34237. Look at the list below for information on our group walks throughout May!

National Observances: Mental Health Month

This national health observance, celebrated each year during the month of May, raises awareness of the impact mental health has on an individual’s and a community’s physical, emotional, and mental health. Many may feel ashamed or are too nervous to speak to others about their mental health issues, as there is stigma against mental health problems. Two of the goals of mental health month are to encourage those with mental health issues to not feel ashamed or nervous when asking for help or acceptance from others, and to work on eliminating the stigma against mental health issues. Mental health issues can develop in anyone, whether it be due to biological factors or a traumatic event. For more information on this national health observance and mental health in general, visit:,, &

Dr. Stacy Greeter and Dr. Janet Taylor are psychiatrists serving Manatee and Sarasota counties who have provided outstanding presentations as part of MHI Healing Circles (which can be viewed on our Facebook page and  at this link. If you are seeking guidance from a healthcare professional, please contact them at and , respectively. 

National Observances: Asian and Pacific Islander Month

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Heritage Month! This month is an opportunity to recognize the many ways AA and NHPI histories, cultures, leadership, and innovation have influenced all facets of life in the United States. According to the CDC, AAPIs make up 5% of the total population in the United States, but account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic Hepatitis B. An estimated 1 in 12 Asian Americans lives with hepatitis B. Despite these high rates, many are not tested for Hepatitis B and unaware that they are infected. In addition, more than 1 in 5 Asians living with HIV do not know they have it, with higher rates amongst Gay and Bisexual men. Similar to other patient groups, cancer, heart disease, and stroke are the leading causes of death in the Asian population. 

For more information on the CDC’s programs involving AA and NHPI health please visit For more information regarding AA and NHPI month as a whole, please visit

National Observances: Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month

About 25 million Americans have asthma, and over 50 million Americans suffer some form of allergies. Asthma is a chronic condition that causes the inside walls of one’s airways to become swollen, thus narrowing the airways and reducing the amount of air that can pass through them. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. Allergies are caused by one’s immune system being triggered by environmental agents, foods and medications. Allergies are caused by a “false alarm”. To clarify, one’s immune system gets triggered when fighting germs, but sometimes one’s immune system responds to false alarms caused by objects that are similar but not harmful to one’s body. These objects, called allergens, can be anything, from pollen to certain types of foods and can trigger a cascade of reponses from itchy eyes, runny noses, rashes and in worst cases, wheezing, swelling of the airways with total system overload in life threatening  response called anaphylaxis that needs immediate attention. We don’t know why this happens for certain people. We do know that fine particulate matter, air pollution, diesel exhaust fumes can trigger and aggravate asthma and allergies, and encourage people to wear masks or avoid such exposures when possible. This was a major concern on the Myrtle corridor as higher rates of asthma seen in those populations nearby to the dust generating commercial businesses in the vicinity. For more information on asthma, and allergies, visit:,, &

 Current News Updates

  • American Red Cross Grey Skies by. Dr. Lisa Merritt

MHI was part of a "gray skies” exercise hosted at the American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Center. Ironically, the "scenario" was familiar to our team- unanticipated heavy rain and flooding in Newtown followed by power outages and communications challenges. Greg Cruz of Streets of Paradise gave an excellent summary from the work group and urged the wonderful gathering of helpful organizations to share resources, infrastructure support, and communicate and coordinate with the longstanding key community organizations and leaders on the ground.

With our MHI Sarasota office in the heart of Newtown in Selby Goodwill building at Osprey Avenue and Dr. MLK Way, we understand and have provided assistance in prior, similar real world events. The previously successful Project Hope multi-facility and Faith-based response was so impactful that we have been offered a small follow-up grant to do a demonstration project creating a mini resilience hub and disaster prevention trainings within the neighborhood. 

We appreciate support to keep this important work going. Truly being prepared can help prevent great suffering and loss of life. Please read more about the importance of disaster preparedness here: and here: 

  • MMJ 

Marijuana, medically, is known to help reduce pain and anxiety, as well as being used as an antidepressant medication in Colorado and other states where it is legalized. We have also seen how it helps appetite and pain for cancer patients undergoing rigorous treatments. With these known medical benefits, what impact would the reclassifying of the drug have on its use and research in the healthcare world? Read more about the topic here:  

  • Reversing Justice by. Marquia Walker  -MHI Scholar

As of March 2, 2024, the University of Florida eliminated all diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and positions held within the university. This comes as the result of Florida Board of Governors regulation 9.016 which classifies DEI as “any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation and promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals on the basis of such classification.” Following this move, one of the representatives of the state of North Carolina introduced the EDUCATE Act which would, according to the AAMC, “prohibit graduate medical schools from receiving federal financial assistance, including participating in federal student loan programs, if schools adopt certain policies and requirements relating to DEI.” HBCU like Howard and Meharry have been “put on notice”. With these attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion, we highly encourage you to read this article on why DEI matters, specifically in medicine.

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!

You can make one time or recurring donations here:

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1781 Dr. Martin Luther King Way

Sarasota, Florida 34234

Office: 941-906-9484

Fax: 941-225-8198

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Oneco Hope Global Methodist Church

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Bradenton, FL 34203

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