Community Champions Honored for Their Service

Community Champions Honored for Their Service


Every year the Riverside University Health System (RUHS)-Public Health Department honors those in the community identified as ‘Community Champions’ for their service to Riverside County residents. This year RUHS honored five individuals or partner organizations with its Public Health Champion awards. The recipients were honored April 2nd at the meeting of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors’ meeting as the board kicked-off National Public Health Week (April 1-8). The award recipients were recognized for having contributed to improving the health and well-being of Riverside County residents. Kim Saruwatari, Director of Riverside University Healthcare System – Public Health praised the award winners, “These individuals and organizations have stepped up and gone beyond what would normally be expected of them.” She continued, “They have seen the importance of giving back to the community and their efforts have benefitted many residents. We are honored to give them this much-deserved recognition.  One award recipient was selected from each of the five supervisorial districts. In addition to recognizing their dedication to improving public health they were also recognized for their collaboration with Public Health and/or other organizations focused on public and population health and because of their sensitivity to the needs of special populations and reducing health disparities in care and outcomes. The five recipients included: District 1—Riverside Food System Alliance for its support of local food and agriculture for a healthier community and building sustainable local farm-to-fork and back-to-farm economy. District 2—Vonya Quarles, co-founder of Starting Over Inc., a CBO specializing in providing transitional housing and reentry services while helping to build strong communities through recovery, civic engagement and leadership development. District 3—San Jacinto Unified School District Nutrition Services Department for its facilitation of numerous health and wellness projects in collaboration with RUHS-PH and its ongoing quest for new and innovative opportunities to improve the lives of their students, families and community. District 4—Rev. Benita Ramsey for her work as planning council support manager for the Inland Empire HIV Planning Council and a Principal Consultant for BRMG Management Group specializing in social justice, diversity and inclusion. District 5—Deborah Franklin for providing strong support of public health in the City of Banning. Under her leadership as an elected official, the City adopted a Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) resolution and created the Healthy Banning Initiative demonstrating the city’s commitment to adopting and implementing strategies for improving community health.  Subsequent to the awards presentation, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, public health officer for the county, gave a “State of the County’s Health” address.

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