Zachary Fund wants healthy and productive workers in Clatsop County.

The AmeriCorps intern, part of the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program to help impoverished communities, started his one-year stint in April and is trying to promote healthy lifestyles and workplaces for Clatsop County residents.

Fund, 23, serves as an organizer for the Community Health Advocacy Resource Team (CHART), a group of 14 local agencies involved in Clatsop County’s health that organized about three years ago.

The Sunset Empire Parks and Recreation District and Clatsop County Public Health Department, each a member of CHART, gave $1,000 to pay for his position, which is mostly funded by an Oregon Health Authority grant. He’s based in a back office in the Sunset Pool, sponsored by the district’s General Manager Justin Cutler and covers the entire county.

“We’re really focused on how to get employers to work on wellness programs,” said Fund, who recently graduated from Portland State University with a bachelor’s degree in community health education. “Eventually we’re trying to reach out to schools and the like.

“We do want to encompass everyone, from larger employers to smaller employers.”

Three main areas of focus, he said, are nutrition, exercise and tobacco use.

“We want to incorporate fitness into the average workday, just because work takes up so much of people’s everyday lives,” said Fund, adding the same about providing good sources of nutrition at the workplace.

“If people don’t have access to healthier options, they won’t even look for healthier options.”

With tobacco use, he added, it’s about finding other ways to slow and release stress, such as taking a walk on the river or ocean front during a break rather than grabbing a cigarette.

Fund organizes meetings for CHART, whose vision is “a county whose residents are informed and empowered to seek health lifestyle options to ensure an optimal quality of life.”

Steven Blakesley, interim director of the county public health department, said that collaboration between agencies is what helped Clatsop County secure three years worth of VISTA interns.

Blakesley originally had to decline a the OHA grant for Fund’s position, fearing his own job was up in the air at the time. Cutler stepped in to be a mentor, though, seeing Fund’s position analogous to his.

“We do health and wellness every day,” said Cutler, who meets with Fund weekly for updates on his progress and to talk with him about his goals. “That’s exactly what Zach’s out there promoting every day.”

Fund’s time in Clatsop County is about laying the foundation, said Cutler, and the next three years is about expanding awareness of all the county services to promote health and wellness.

Blakesley said a lot of the effort is in getting employers to see their own financial benefit in having healthier workers. “There’s more productivity and fewer lost work days because of sick days.”

Fund’s been developing a website for CHART sending worksite wellness assessments out to the city of Seaside and Coastal Family Health Center, which has recently started to create a worksite wellness program, and developing presentations for businesses on creating worksite wellness programs.

An example can be found at http://prezi.com/vyxltgzq7oku/worksite-wellness-chart/. Fund can be contacted at 503-738-3311 ext. 114 or clatsopchart@gmail.com

“Right now, It feels like we have all these connections and resources, but we need someone to bring them all together,” he said.

“I’ll be here at least a year, but the project goes on for three years for this position. Hopefully we can create something sustainable.”

Fund’s internship fits right in with his major and his personal life, as his fiance is Rebecca Frick, an AmeriCorps intern who started in September as the downtown coordinator for the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association.

Tags

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.