Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award: Culture of Health Prize

Identifying the Needs, Empowering the Community

 Columbia Gorge 2016 Culture of Health.  Cooking class at One Community Health. Students discuss receipts and challenges faced while cooking / eating throughout the week.
 Columbia Gorge 2016 Culture of Health. June Husted qualifies for and uses Veggie RX (medical doctors "prescribe" this for patients). With vouchers, Veggie RX folks recieve free vegetables from places like farmers markets.

HOOD RIVER, Ore., Oct. 19, 2016 — It’s not everyday that partnerships in our area produce prize-winning results and accolades nationwide. But that’s exactly what’s happened with a prestigious, recent award calling attention to the success of a number of organizations, their leaders and their programs throughout the Columbia River Gorge.

On October 19, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) awarded the Columbia George Region with its Culture of Health Prize. The Columbia Gorge Region was one of seven winners recognized at a ceremony and celebration of learning that took place at the foundation’s headquarters in Princeton, N.J.

The prize honors communities for their efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Specifically, the Columbia Gorge region won the prize for bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health, drawing especially on the wisdom, voice and experience of residents themselves.

Chosen from nearly 200 applicant communities across the country, the Columbia Gorge was recognized for creating a broad definition of health that:

1) clarifies the social determinants of health (food security, affordable housing, etc.);
2) gives a voice to the region’s vast Latino population; and
3) expands the scope and role of Community Health Workers through unique outreach, programs and services.

The successes, highlighted in a just-released documentary video produced by the RWJF, include the Veggie Rx food prescription program, which OCH has consistently helped implement over the years. The video features a number of the key partners and those who are helping fuel the program’s success, including Brooke Nicholls, FNP-C, who oversees health promotion initiatives at One Community Health.

Among the representatives who traveled to Princeton for the prize-giving was Kristen Dillon, MD, One Community Health’s Board Chair. As Kristen told OCH, the award experience was beyond incredible not just because of the recognition itself but what it meant for our community, the partners’ track record for driving change, and OCH’s ability to help address critical need in our area.

“The Columbia Gorge was recognized for the role of community health workers in building our ‘Culture of Health,’” Kristen said. “No doubt, the roots of that movement in our region grew from this organization when it was La Clínica del Cariño. So I was really honored to be there on behalf of both OCH and our community at large at the Princeton event. Compared to the other award recipients, we were unusual in the diversity of organizations represented in our delegation—six people from five different employers. However, the representatives of other prize-winning communities brought some completely different strengths and perspectives, so it was great to get to learn from each other. I never thought about performing arts as a tool for health equity, but after meeting the folks from Louisville, Kentucky, I’m a convert!”

The Columbia Gorge region received a $25,000 cash prize, which will be used to further the collaboration of the key partners and their efforts. For more information about the RWJF or the award itself, visit:

Katie RobertsAwards, Full life