The Nicholson Foundation Awards VNACJ $525,657 Grant to Fund Opportunities to Optimize Health in Freehold through Neighborhood Connections to Health Coalition

Grant Will Support Special Focus on Reduction of Childhood Lead Poisoning

Visiting Nurse Association of Central New Jersey (VNACJ)’s Children and Family Health Institute, under the nonprofit umbrella organization Visiting Nurse Association Health Group (VNA Health Group), has received $525,657 to support the Neighborhood Connections to Health (NCH) coalition for which it serves as the fiscal agent. Support for this grant comes from The Nicholson Foundation. Over an 18-month period, the grant will support the broad based coalitions’ efforts to strengthen its infrastructure and expand its lead remediation work to improve the health and well-being of children in the Greater Freehold area.

The funding will complement existing coalition work to test children for lead exposure, and will be used to focus on reducing the incidence of elevated blood lead levels in children and pregnant women. These lead remediation activities will focus on prevention, specifically testing homes for lead and helping building owners and tenants to properly remediate any lead hazards, including replacing windows and painting with lead-free paint. At the end of the last school year, the NCH coalition tested 60 students in Freehold Borough Schools and found a handful of children, up to age 6, with exposure. Their families were given the opportunity to pursue treatment options and learn how to prevent repeat exposure. The new funding will allow more families like these to avoid lead exposure by ensuring that their homes are lead-safe.

The need for environmental lead screenings and remediation is higher in Freehold Borough because 85 percent of the housing stock in Freehold Borough was built before 1978 when the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint, as reported in a recent article in the Asbury Park Press. Therefore, current residents, especially children, are at a much higher risk of exposure.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to accept this funding and extend our services to families in Freehold,” said Steven Landers, MD, MPH, President and CEO of VNA Health Group. “When VNA Health Group was founded over 100 years ago, it was a grassroots response to public health crises. This expands on that work and responds to a direct need in the community.” 

“The Nicholson Foundation is proud to support children and families in Freehold through this grant,” said Maureen Deevey, a senior program officer at The Nicholson Foundation. “We have previously funded health coalitions in Newark, Camden, Trenton, and Passaic, and we welcome the opportunity to support the Freehold community’s efforts to work together to improve the health of vulnerable populations.”

In addition to the Nicholson-funded lead remediation project, the NCH engages in wide-ranging efforts to improve the health and well-being of residents of the Greater Freehold area. These efforts include addressing broader health disparities by improving access to healthy foods, increasing the number of safe places for walking, biking and physical activity, and connecting community members and leaders to work together to improve health outcomes.

“We are excited that our work through the Neighborhood Connections to Health coalition will be amplified through this new funding source,” said Colleen Nelson, Vice President, Clinical Operations/Children & Family Health Institute. “We are building this coalition in the Greater Freehold area to grow and connect the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members to work together and enhance opportunities for healthy living.”

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