Tips for Success from a National Health Center Week Expert

Leslie A. Morris, Director of Community Relations, New Jersey Primary Care Association

Leslie A. Morris, Director of Community Relations, New Jersey Primary Care Association

For the last five plus years the Health Centers of New Jersey and the New Jersey Primary Care Association have lead the nation in the number of events held in celebration of National Health Center Week. Leading the charge in New Jersey is Leslie Morris, Director of Community Relations at the New Jersey Primary Care Association (read her bio here).

Each year Leslie works tirelessly to recruit statewide sponsors to support events locally, she organizes a yearly planning party convening each of the NJ Health Centers starting in March to jump start event planning, and she coordinates a statewide National Health Center Week Kickoff Event inviting the entire New Jersey Congressional Delegation and countless other community leaders.

Over the years, Leslie’s outstanding efforts on National Health Center Week have earned her ‘Guru’ status and set her apart as a national leader and resource on how to ensure success when celebrating National Health Center Week (NHCW). In her words – Tips for Success from a National Health Center Week Expert:

1. Start Planning Early – In New Jersey, we start planning in February. I use February to update the event coordinator list at each site, to add new people to the listserve, and to set the date for our big planning meeting.

2. The Big Planning Meeting – I hold the planning meeting in March. The planning meeting is comprised of all health center event coordinators, New Jersey’s Medicaid Managed Care representatives (who provide a great deal of sponsorship dollars), and community representatives. At the planning meeting we set a date for the kick-off event; we discuss the theme and identify those we will honor at the kick-off event in accordance with the theme; we discuss where we want to hold the kick-off event; we discuss strategies for getting our elected officials to our events; and of course we discuss event planning. Also in March, I send out the letters to our sponsors for NHCW, and I write grants for additional funding for NHCW. Walmart and Kohl’s are great about providing gift cards for NHCW.

3. In May, I start sending out the motivational emails to my group – I have a listserve – reminding them to start planning their events and to invite their elected officials.

4. In June, I mail the invitation to our kick-off event to all our elected officials. I also begin ordering giveaways for our centers to distribute to patients at their events. As events begin rolling in, they are posted on the national website.

5. In July, we begin packaging all the giveaways for our centers. We have a “great giveaway pick up day” which is always the Friday before our kick-off event. All the event coordinators convene at the PCA to sing, celebrate and pick up their giveaways.

6. Throughout this entire time, I am constantly sending motivational messages regarding NHCW. This keeps the group on their toes and motivated!

7. By the end of July, we are well positioned to have the best NHCW in the country!

–Leslie A. Morris, Director of Community Relations, New Jersey Primary Care Association

Learn more about National Health Center Week 2012, August 5-11, including event ideas and resources, at www.healthcenterweek.org.

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