Community Conversations

The Community Conversations series, presented by the Salem Health and Wellness Foundation, explores issues that impact Salem County residents. These free conversations feature the voices of community stakeholders, national experts, and more. For more information on upcoming conversations, please contact Emily Hernandez at .

Hispanic Health in Salem County

From September 15th to October 15th, the country recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month. The 2023 theme for the month is “Prosperity, Power and Progress”. In that spirit, the Salem Health and Wellness Foundation held this virtual Community Conversation to the health and well-being of Latino families and individuals in Salem County and around New Jersey. We were joined by a panel of advocates and practitioners who highlighted the challenges around access and equity, as well as discussed the promising practices and effective strategies for health care support. Remarkable, compassionate and effective work happens every day in Salem County and in the South Jersey region. This was an opportunity to learn from those efforts and consider how other health and human service organizations can replicate those examples of success.

Budding Issue: Cannabis, Development, and Despair featuring best-selling author and neuropsychologist Judy Grisel, Ph.D.

There is a good deal of concern about drug use in Salem County, especially among young people. Most chemicals that people use to medicate or enhance reality have both risks and benefits, at different times and for different people. Nonetheless, regular use of any mind-altering substance causes the exact opposite states to a drug’s original effects. This session explains how the brain adapts to addictive drugs by creating the states of craving, tolerance, and dependence that characterize addiction. We address how the multiple influences of genetic predispositions, childhood trauma, and drug use during development make some people more vulnerable than others. These general principles were applied to illustrate specific risk factors and neural changes associated with addiction to cannabis, and we heard how brain science can help inform more effective prevention and intervention efforts to reduce the incidence of substance use disorders.

Practical and Creative Ways Community Based Organizations Can Use Data, featuring nationally recognized researcher and program evaluator Kirk O’Brien.

Community and neighborhood level data are critical in the planning, development, implementation, evaluation and sustaining a systems improvement project. Though the collection and analysis of data might seem complex, there are actually a number of helpful, straightforward ways to find the information and apply it to problem solving. This community conversation featured Kirk O’Brien, a nationally recognized researcher and program evaluator as he highlighted the best ways to gather information, how to use it and how to connect data to the stories and narratives that are also an essential part of a community’s well-being. Kirk’s approach is practical and easy to follow and should help any organization build its planning and implementation capacity.