GONZALES — Gonzales has been named one of five winners of the 2019 RWJF Culture of Health Prize, awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which honors communities for working at the forefront of advancing health, opportunity and equity.
Chosen from nearly 200 applicant communities across the country, Gonzales is being nationally recognized for pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health. The city’s award-winning efforts include implementing initiatives and programs over the past decade that are resulting in real progress in Gonzales on youth engagement, economic development, health care access and sustainability.
“The City Council and staff are committed to working collaboratively to provide the resources necessary to bring excellent services that enhance the quality of life of our diverse community,” said Gonzales Mayor Maria Orozco. “We are honored to be recognized by RWJF for the years of hard work by many of our residents and community partners who have contributed to the city’s goal of improving the overall health of all residents.”
Gonzales will receive a $25,000 prize, join a network of award-winning communities and have its inspiring accomplishments shared throughout the nation. The other four prize winners are: Broward County, Fla.; Greenville County, S.C.; Lake County, Colo; and Sitka, Alaska.
“The 2019 RWJF Culture of Health Prize winners recognize that health is about more than just healthcare. It’s about what happens where we live, work, learn and play. They are fundamentally reshaping their communities so that everyone has a fair opportunity for health and well-being,” said Richard Besser, M.D., president and CEO of RWJF. “These communities show the nation that solutions are within our grasp when we use local data to identify challenges and work together to implement solutions brought forward by residents.”
Gonzales now joins Santa Cruz County, Santa Monica and San Pablo as the fourth California community to win the distinguished prize.
To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, Gonzales had to demonstrate how it excelled in the following six criteria: defining health in the broadest possible terms; committing to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions; creating conditions that give everyone a fair and just opportunity to reach their best possible health; harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners and community members; securing and making the most of available resources; and measuring and sharing progress and results.
“To the Gonzales community, this is a significant recognition for the ongoing efforts by the many contributors to the city’s health and wellness goals,” said City Manager Rene Mendez. “We look forward to celebrating this award with our partners and community and continuing to look for ways to engage residents and businesses to advance health, opportunity and equity for all.”
A delegation of six community leaders from Gonzales, along with representatives from the other 2019 prize-winning communities, attended an award ceremony last week at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation headquarters in Princeton, N.J. Prize winners were presented with certificates and participated in a panel discussion on courageous conversations, among other activities.