The Truth About Building Healthy Communities

Living in a community is an essential human necessity. The support we get from our neighbors, families, schools, and local businesses is critical to our health and well-being. 

But as a community ages and begins to show signs of deterioration, changes are required to keep it alive and thriving. Here in America, it’s common for developers to target an older neighborhood for “revitalization”; yet too often that means pushing the established residents out and rebuilding the area with new shops, businesses, and expensive homes. 

What can the average resident do to strengthen older communities and keep neighbors and families together? The key is understanding the connection between housing, health, and wealth — and then taking strategic steps to fortify all three areas. 

You — yes, YOU, a community resident — can be a part of the solution. In fact, when you understand what it takes to build a healthy community, you may be surprised to discover how much of a difference you can make. 

Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to build — or rebuild — a healthy community. We’ll discuss the qualities and benefits of building healthy communities, how locals can get involved, and explore some resources that can equip you to be a proactive part of the solution. 

What Is a Healthy Community? 

Maintaining a community that is safe, clean, productive, and mentally stable requires three core elements to functioning effectively: housing, health, and wealth. These three areas are inseparably linked:

• In order for residents to be healthy, they need safe and reliable housing, as well as money to keep it that way. 

• Proper housing requires funding and investment to ensure that homes are adequately equipped for their residents. 

• Building wealth in a community requires that its residents are healthy, have a safe and dependable home, and have opportunities for generating consistent income.

When all three of these areas are being addressed with the community’s best interests in mind, only then is it possible to begin building a healthy community. 

The Benefits of Building Healthy Communities

Building healthy communities is important for a number of reasons: 

• When communities are healthy, they are more likely to thrive economically and environmentally.

• Healthy communities have a lower crime rate and a stronger social network.

• Creating a sense of community can help reduce stress and promote social cohesion.

• They are more resilient in the face of natural disasters or other crises.

• They provide opportunities for social and economic mobility for their residents.

• Healthy communities can lead to improved mental health for residents.

• They foster creativity and innovation by encouraging people to come together to problem solve.

• Building healthy communities can have a positive impact on the local economy.

• Building healthy communities helps us connect with our surroundings in ways that can be beneficial both physically and emotionally.

How to Get Involved in Building Healthy Communities

Communities are essential to creating a healthy environment for all residents. But it doesn’t happen without the intentional, proactive efforts of the community members. 

There are many ways to get involved in building healthy communities, and everyone has something to contribute. The benefits of community involvement include improved communication and cooperation between neighbors, as well as stronger ties within the community itself.

For example, you may know an elderly neighbor who lives in a home that’s no longer safe for them. Perhaps they’re unable to go up and down their stairs or have mobility issues that prevent them from living independently. However, with some local funding and a few essential home modifications, that neighbor can continue to live in their home and be a part of their beloved community.

Organizations like Omicelo Cares exist to help community members and local business operators to take productive steps toward strengthening their neighborhoods and bringing new life to aging communities. We understand that local resident and business participation is critical for the future well-being of our communities, and there are many ways we can support it.

Resources for Building Healthy Communities

Community leaders and residents need to be aware of the resources available to help them build healthy communities. These resources include programs and policies that promote health, education about health and healthy living, and financial assistance for those looking to make changes in their lifestyle. 

Omicelo Cares offers resources to help community leaders implement programs and policies that support a healthy lifestyle and a safer living environment. We believe neighborhoods can create promise for all community members. Our mission is to “CO-POWER existing community members in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods to own financial assets, grow their businesses, and lift their incomes.”

We offer several resources that help local community members learn the skills it takes to improve their financial situation and contribute to a more vibrant community: 

7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business

We help small businesses by providing deep business support for income growth and sustainability. Our 7 Pillars™ Accelerator advances small businesses through specialized technical assistance and helps these businesses navigate revenue and growth opportunities.

Excel Ahead

Excel Ahead is a 6-8 week course designed to train individuals on Microsoft Excel, providing them with skills that are currently in demand in the workforce. These skills can also prove valuable to landlords and those who are purchasing and developing real estate.

Real Estate Co-Powerment Series

The Real Estate Co-Powerment Series is an education platform designed to demystify the real estate development process. Through in-class instruction, coaching and mentorship, our goal is to demonstrate how community members, organizations, and small business owners can participate and benefit from their own neighborhood revitalization and learn how to get active projects across the finish line.

The Landlord Experience

The Landlord Experience is a series of courses, offered by Omicelo Cares, that is designed to educate and inform landlords. The goals of this program are to promote effective landlord/tenant engagement, present landlord/tenant resources, and provide a formal understanding of rights as a landlord. Course topics include leases, subsidies, avoiding eviction, and more.

Sign up to be notified about upcoming opportunities to participate in an Omicelo Cares program  that can truly make a positive impact on your community. 

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Growing a Business, Plants, and Community

Growing a Business, Plants, and Community  

Omicelo Cares has enabled business owners in Pittsburgh communities to grow their business through strategic planning within their 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business program. Within this program, participants have the opportunity to focus on seven sectors of their business: strategy, technology, communication, finance, legal, capital, and people.

Ebony Lunsford-Evans recently graduated from the 2021-22 program of 7 Pillars™, concentrating on the financial pillar of her business.

“It’s helped me as a business owner learn to focus on the important things in my business and keep an eye on the way things grow in business,” she said.

And Lunsford-Evans certainly loves to watch things grow. As an urban farmer and lifelong educator located in the West End of Pittsburgh, Lunsford-Evans has dedicated a good portion of her life to helping things grow: fresh produce, the community members she teaches, and her businesses, Farmer Girl Eb and Out of The End, Incorporated.

Through her participation in Omicelo Cares’ 7 Pillars™ program, Lunsford-Evans had the opportunity to work with attorneys and create a consignment agreement for her business, Farmer Girl Eb. Before she completed this program, her consignment agreement created a 100% increase in entrepreneurial partnerships for her produce store.

The 7 Pillars™ Process: Growing Her Business

Through the 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business program, Omicelo Cares came alongside Lunsford-Evans to help her build her strategic plan. Her plan outlined her personal and financial goals in a yearly structure. Omicelo Cares’ employees were able to support her by helping her to create a clear focus on where she was headed. As a result, this strategic plan produced tangible results.

With the guidance of Omicelo Cares, Lunsford-Evans increased her entrepreneurial partnerships by 100% before completing the 7 Pillars program.

During the program, Lunsford-Evans felt respected for who she was in her creativity. She said that the Omicelo Cares Staff supported and guided her by listening to her goals and recognizing her strengths. This support enabled her to successfully develop her business into what she truly wanted it to be. 

Impacting Her Community Through Growing Plants

Lunsford-Evans began her business pursuit with a desire to educate others. After teaching in the public school, she utilized her skills as an educator to build her business in urban farming and agricultural education. 

She began by renovating an “eye-sore” of a vacant lot into a beautifully lush urban farm. She now owns two urban farms, one in the West End and the other in the North Side. These farms supply her corner produce store, Farmer Girl Eb, along with other entrepreneurs she partners with. 

“We grow fresh produce there on both lots,” Lunsford-Evens said. “They’re both teaching sites for the community to come and learn to grow and sustain fresh food that we grow right in the ground.” 

With these resources, she has impacted her community in many ways. Through her non-profit organization, Out of the End, Inc., she has educated community members on how to sustain and grow food from seed, harvest produces, build a relationship with the land, understand soil health, scale and distribute food, and understand herbal medicines. 

“We have farmers from 3 years old all the way up to 83 years old,” she said about her students within the community. 

Lunsford-Evans explained how the ability to grow and sustain food decreases the social determinants of health, saying, “Now that a lot of people are becoming more aware of how to have a relationship with their land, grow food, and eat healthier, negative impacts on the social determinants of health are decreasing. People are not having the illnesses that they were experiencing.”

She is passionate about educating her community on the importance of eating healthy because of how it can impact their overall health issues. 

“I’ve had to literally tell the community, ‘I’m not a doctor,’” she said. “But I’ve had people literally be healed from just eating right and creating medicine from the land.”

7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business

The 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business program empowers business owners to create clear goals and achieve substantial results. This program unites business owners passionate about their communities with our experts at Omicelo Cares, who strive to co-power community members to own financial assets, grow their business, and increase their income. 

Lunsford-Evans was able to take part in this program and watch not only her business grow but also the communities she is serving. Her desire to benefit her community overflows into her work as she strives to make fresh food available for the community as a whole.

Learn more about how the 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business program can help you impact your community through business growth.

Vision. Mission. Focus. Obtain Your Business Goals with 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business

Vision. Mission. Focus. Obtain Your Business Goals with 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business

Taylor Ford knew she needed to find the time to slow down and work on her business because she was struggling to find focus. She owned one IT business that offered numerous facets of IT work. However, Ford struggled to create a clear direction for her services because of the company’s extensive reach.

Aware that she needed help to develop and focus her business, Ford signed up for Omicelo Cares’ 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business program. This program centers on seven different business sectors, which are Strategy, Technology, Communication, Finance, Legal, Capital, and People, gearing toward each participant’s business’ unique needs. 

This program provided Ford with mentorship, guidance, and support focusing on the strategy and marketing pillars.

“My favorite part about that was actually the one-on-one mentoring with 7 Pillars™ Manager, Shannon,” Ford said about the Omicelo Care’s team member. “She became a real friend in my business; a real partner. And she helped me with my strategy, and she helped me conceptualize who I actually was in business and what I wanted to do and the impact that I wanted to make.”

Focusing and Strategizing Her Business 

Through the support of Omicelo Cares, Ford successfully separated her business into two distinct companies: Taylor Made IT Services and IT’s For Me. Both of her businesses are centered on giving technology access to minorities, but each has its specific focus.

Taylor Made IT Services offers IT managerial services with on-site help, unique from most IT companies.

“What differentiates Taylor made is we have a lot of on-site help,” Ford said. “We literally contract out our department. We come embedded in integral parts of our clients’ environments and ecosystems because we are their staff members; we are their technicians.”

Taylor Made’s next goal is to take over the charter school scene to make sure that there is a Taylor Made technician in every charter school serving minorities, Ford said.

On the other hand, IT’s For Me teaches the community how to utilize various mainstream technology through summer programs and after-school camps.

“The after-school programs help the children be creative and innovative using technology,” Ford explained. “It supports the theme that they don’t all have to be basketball players and football players. They can be astronauts, they can be engineers, they can be scientists, and allowing them the space to create, to be innovative, to think, has really changed the game for them.”

IT’s For Me currently partners with after-school programs, but they will host their own after-school programs and summer camps next year. At these programs and camps, the kids can work on varying projects, including designing websites, building fliers, working on their resumes and cover letters, learning the Microsoft Office Suite, and collaborating in a group. These events focus on varying sectors of technology.

Ford explained that her companies didn’t change all that much; they both still offered the same services.

“It was more so an internal separation that really needed to happen for our clients,” Ford said. “There was a service shift.”

This focus and separation improved her work environment by establishing a clear direction for her team by always relating their services to their mission. 

“It’s improved my overall quality of life because I have a tidbit of my sanity back because now I know which way I am going,” Ford said. 

Support On Her Business Journey

Omicelo Cares and their partners came alongside Ford to support her as a business partner to obtain tangible results by slowing down and working on her business.

“They helped me build upon what exactly my company does,” Ford said. “So, that’s why I separated them. They were able to help me to clarify my message for each of them because they don’t do the same thing. They don’t have the same clientele. They’re not the same target market.”

The program’s collaborative nature enabled Ford and other participants to focus solely on their business with the help of Omicelo Cares’ business professionals. 

Separating her two businesses clarified which services were being offered to each customer. 

7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business

Ford highly recommends the 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business program because of how the mentors support you and become your partners and friends. 

“[They] built a rapport with me that is very hard to build, and they kept that rapport,” Ford said.

The 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business is a hands-on, personalized experience that forces you to work on your business, Ford said. It teaches that with all seven pillars, your business can be structured to achieve income growth and sustainability:

The 7 Pillars™ include:

  • Strategy
  • Technology
  • Communication 
  • Finance 
  • Legal 
  • Capital
  • People

Visit our website to learn more about the 7 Pillars™ of Sustainable Business program and how it can help you grow your business.