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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 7 months ago

HEALTH MATTERS: District creates Foundation for a Healthier West Orange

The West Orange Healthcare District recently established the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange to amplify community health and wellness.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

With its vision for West Orange County to become the healthiest community in the nation in sharp focus, the West Orange Healthcare District is taking the movement a step further.

In mid-October, the District announced an endowment to ensure health and wellness for future generations in the community. This comes in the form of establishing the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange, a nonprofit that aims to champion local health and wellness, as well as to accelerate WOHD’s long-term vision for West Orange.

The foundation is the umbrella for Healthy West Orange, a grassroots movement launched in 2016 by the WOHD, Orlando Health and Observer Media Group. Healthy West Orange has been championing the goal of making West Orange the healthiest community in the nation by providing tools and social connections to help residents eat well, stay active and enjoy life.

“The purpose of the foundation now is to ensure the longevity of that focus, and it’s ensuring an ongoing sustainable support to create the healthiest community in the nation,” said West Orange Healthcare District CEO Tracy Swanson. “The Healthy West Orange movement is being moved underneath the foundation. The foundation is the parent, if you will, of Healthy West Orange. They’ll continue to facilitate the movement … with the support of other agencies and businesses in the community.”

Swanson said the Foundation for a Healthier West Orange was initially created a little more than a year ago as a nonprofit that would deliver Healthy User Bulletin Board — a resource to help residents find and access local health and wellness programs and services. The foundation also provides a way to ensure established funding that would enable the Healthy West Orange project to continue for years to come.

“Last year we began thinking about the security of Healthy West Orange into the future, because becoming the healthiest community in the nation is not a one-year project — it’s long term and probably will be at least 10 years before (we) really begin to see that,” Swanson said. 

What’s more is that Healthy User Bulletin Board, Healthy West Orange and the foundation all will occupy space in a new multipurpose office and community building currently under construction at the corner of Plant Street and South West Crown Point Road in Winter Garden. More than half the available space will be leased to local organizations and businesses, and that rental income will support the foundation’s ongoing operations.

This building will house the foundation, Healthy West Orange and the Healthy User Bulletin Board. It also will lease space to other businesses and community organizations, the rental income of which will support the foundation.

According to the West Orange Healthcare District, initial funding for the foundation is coming from two district grants. The first is a three-year, $10 million start-up grant to establish and staff Healthy User Bulletin Board for its first three years, as well as to expand Healthy West Orange programs and outreach. This grant also includes funds to build out, furnish and maintain the new building.

A second, $40 million grant will establish an endowed fund with future earnings earmarked for programs and operations starting in the fourth year and into the future.

The foundation’s board consists of five members, including executives at both area hospitals: chairwoman Jaclyn Whiddon, of The Whiddon Group; Mark Marsh, president of Orlando Health’s Health Central Hospital; Carl Dupper, CEO of AdventHealth Winter Garden; Tim Keating, president and CEO, RC Stevens Construction; and Norma Sutton, vice president, World Trade Center Orlando.

"The purpose of the foundation now is to ensure the longevity of that focus, and it’s ensuring an ongoing sustainable support to create the healthiest community in the nation." - Tracy Swanson

“We’re thrilled — we are really fortunate that we have such high-caliber health care providers in the West Orange community,” Swanson said. “Mark (Marsh) and Carl (Dupper) are amazing advocates for Healthy West Orange and their passion and expertise is what I think will really help us expand Healthy West Orange and the success of it in the community, which was our intention with the creation of the foundation.” 

The West Orange Healthcare District was created by the Florida Legislature 70 years ago to ensure West Orange residents had better access to health care services. Over the year, the district has awarded more than $180 million in local community grants to enhance residents’ health and wellness.

“By establishing the foundation, it’s going to continue to deliver for years beyond the opportunity for the community to enjoy a healthy environment,” Swanson said. “This is for any resident of West Orange. It’s going to take everybody to become the healthiest community in the nation. …It’s an opportunity that I think is one that everybody should take advantage of.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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