August 22, 2020 – As a summer student with Horizon Health Network (Horizon), Kandis Neil-Sampson spent the summer of 2020 making connections, applying for grants to initiate programs, and at the end of the day, truly living Horizon’s vision of helping people be healthy!

Kandis, who’s originally from Stanley, said through this internship, she’s learned so much about the Tantramar Area and the different social organizations that are trying to better the community.

“I learned about this community and how strong it is and how people came together to enact positive change when facing tough times during lockdown and the recovery from lock down,” she said. “Sackville thrives from the university students and COVID-19 really hurt the economy, but people really came together.”

Kate Doyle, community developer for the Moncton Area, said Kandis began working with her in June as a support to the Tantramar Community Food Smart program. Kate quickly learned there would be more opportunities for her, especially in areas where food security issues were popping up as a result of COVID-19.

“As she connected with some of the working groups as part of the Tantramar COVID-19 Task Force, opportunities like the home garden project popped up,” said Kate. “Kandis and her peers immediately jumped into action. It was great having her support my work but in reality, the leadership and innovation she and her peers showed in all their other projects was a highlight of the summer for me!”

Growing our Community

One of the projects Kandis facilitated throughout the summer was Growing our Community, which saw 10 families receive garden packs so they could grow their own vegetables in containers.

Included in each garden pack was a reusable bag that held tools, soil, fertilizer, and containers and pots for each family to grow their vegetables.

“I also made little how-to guides for each of the families, to help them care for their vegetables,” Kandis said.

Families receiving food boxes through Port Elgin Regional School (story here) were asked if they were interested in receiving a garden pack, and 10 said yes.

Kandis said the idea came about during a packing day for Tantramar Community Food Smart in July. Kate said MacArthur’s Nurseries was looking to donate some vegetable plants to a good cause.

Jessica Hughes, from Sackville 2020, was volunteering that day as well, and mentioned that she and Hannah Crouse (the summer student at Horizon’s Port Elgin and Region Health Services Centre) had been interested in finding a way to bring gardening to low income families.

“I got really excited by the concept and for the rest of the packing, Jessica and I brainstormed and came up with how we could make it a reality,” Kandis said.

Kandis got to work on grant applications and they received two to support the project: one from Rising Youth for $1,500, and one from Community Food Action in the amount of $900.

With the grant money, they were able to get everything they needed to bring the garden packs to life.

“First, we needed a way to transport a ton of plants, I think we ended up with around 70 plants in total. We rented a 15-foot U-Haul to transport them back to Sackville,” Kandis said.

The donated plants included an assortment of tomatoes, peppers, beans, lettuce and greens.

“We picked up tools such as shovels, rakes, gloves, watering cans, and tomato cages. As well as soil, fertilizer, and a ton of pots,” Kandis said.

Next, she recruited some students from Tantramar Regional High School to put the packs together.

“They were all amazing and hard working,” Kandis said. “I also recruited some really great volunteers from the Youth and Action group to help deliver the plants. I really can’t thank all of them enough.”

These garden packs not only help fight food insecurity, but they give individuals a sense of purpose, and a more reliable and sustainable food source during the gardening season. Children are able to wake up every morning and take care of their plants, pick fresh vegetables, and enjoy them with their families.

“We wanted to incorporate a more sustainable means of having fresh food, and this does just that,” Kandis said.

Before this summer, Kandis said she was unaware of the food security issues in the Tantramar Area or how involved Horizon’s Port Elgin and Region Health Services Centre was in local community groups.

“I did not know how much one person can impact positive change when given the resources,” she said. “Horizon, and especially Kate Doyle, have shown me how to access resources to be able to create programs like Growing our Community, which can genuinely give a positive change to our community.”

Kandis Neil-Sampson is originally from Stanley, N.B., and in the fall of 2020 will enter her fourth year at Mount Allison University. A former resident of Campbell Hall (North Side pride!), she will graduate with a major in cognitive science and a minor in psychology.

While in high school, Kandis worked and volunteered in nursing homes, homes and spent a lot of time with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Because of this, she’s interested in neurological disorders and illnesses, and plans on furthering her education and specializing in neuropsychology and gerontology.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has participated in various committees with the Tantramar COVID-19 Task Force, including the Food Security Action Group, Youth and Student Action Group, and various subcommittees including volunteering with environmental sustainability, and youth-spaces.

August 15, 2020 – Through a partnership with Mount Allison University, Horizon’s Port Elgin and Region Health Services Centre (PERHSC) has secured a student who created positive change for the community in just a short amount of time. 

This year, that student was Hannah Crouse. Over the course of 15 weeks, while working together with her peers, Hannah has connected people, secured grants for initiatives and was a huge part of helping people be healthy in the Tantramar Region.

Corinna Power, nurse practitioner at PERHSC, said they’ve been so fortunate to be able to have a student every summer since 2018 through this partnership with Mount Allison.

“This summer, Hannah has done an amazing job with program development,” Corinna said. “In collaboration with our health centre team and the Tantramar Area’s community developer, she’s worked with both youth and seniors in our community, while partnering with key community groups to create change.”

Below, we’ve dived into two of the projects that Hannah led over the summer, and we look forward to sharing more of the great work coming from these partnerships.

Food boxes

Christoph Becker, principal of the Port Elgin Regional School (PERS), is passionate about the students at his school (check out In Your Community for a story about how Christoph supports food security among his students).

At the Kindergarten to Grade 8 school, the lunch program is available to any student whose family uses the foodbank – which is the only meal of the day for some students.

When COVID-19 closed schools in March, a daily lunch was no longer available for some students.

As well, prior to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), money became extremely tight and many families were facing food insecurity.

Christoph identified 18 families that needed help. For the remainder of the school year, and over the summer, food boxes were assembled and delivered to these families on a biweekly basis.

“I wrote grants, collected food, assembled boxes and helped Christoph deliver them to these 18 families,” Hannah said. “With the grants I received, I purchased meat from local farmers in the Port Elgin area to help support their families and their businesses.”

Period poverty

Through the PERHSC, Hannah is helping address the social problem of period poverty for middle school students in the area. Period poverty is a lack of access to sanitary products and menstrual hygiene education.

Hannah secured a $1,000 Community Innovation Grant (COIN-G) from Horizon for this. COIN-G is a grant program for application by community stakeholders in partnership with Horizon to fund initiatives or projects within local communities. This grant supports projects related to population health that focus on the social determinants of health, and where possible, respond to the priorities determined through the Community Health Needs Assessments

With the grant money, she was able to purchase products such as tampons, pads, and educational materials. As well, she received 45 Diva Cups from the Diva Cares Program, all of which were donated.

Period packs are put together for students in need. They include sanitary products, as well as educational resources such as booklets, diagrams, and pamphlets.

Students at PERS can access packs through the school’s resource teacher, school teachers or Hannah, whoever the student feels most comfortable approaching.

“By bringing menstruation to the forefront of individuals’ education, maybe even incorporating it into the syllabus, this conversation is normalized and given the space to exist in a safe and welcoming environment,” Hannah said.

This will facilitate a conversation among PERS students and allow them to ask important questions about their bodies and resources available.

“By integrating this kind of initiative, the conversation surrounding periods and period equity will be normalized, which is crucial for middle school aged children,” Hannah said.

“I’m proud of the contributions I have made to these initiatives over the summer,” said Hannah. “I would encourage other students to take advantage of opportunities to give back, it feels good to help people in the community.”

Hannah Crouse is originally from Stewiacke, N.S., and in the fall of 2020 will enter her third year at Mount Allison University. A former resident of Harper Hall, she’s completing a double major in sociology and psychology, and plans on completed her honours in sociology.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s been a part of the Tantramar COVID-19 Task Force on the Youth and Student Action Group, in addition to subcommittees for childcare, food security and environmental sustainability.

After graduation, she’s looking at attending law school, medical school or study public policy. Although all different career paths, they all have the common denominator of facilitating change.

August 8, 2020

By Kate Doyle, Community Developer for the Moncton Area

Schools are so much more than just a place to learn. They’re often community hubs, support systems and, safe spaces.  

For many, they’re also a place where students can count on being able to get a breakfast and lunch. For many families in the Salisbury and Petitcodiac regions, consistent access to healthy food can be a challenge. But schools in the area have really stepped up to make sure that students had full bellies.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing schools to close mid-March, parents across the province scrambled (myself included!). There was so much uncertainty and increased pressure.

In the uncertain before the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB), it was incredibly stressful for so many.

I know I’m not alone in saying that it felt like every half hour a little person was asking for a snack.

For families who are food insecure, which is up to 15 per cent in the Salisbury and Petitcodiac regions (New Brunswick Health Council, 2017), this meant having to provide meals and snacks they may not have been able to provide even before the pandemic set in.

In my experience, rural communities are adept at mobilizing and the communities of Petitcodiac, Salisbury and the surrounding area are no different. We started to connect local leaders, far too many to name individually, to talk about how we were going to make sure “our” youth still had access to healthy food.

Through an already existing partnership with the Food Depot Alimentaire, we were able to get weekly deliveries of some staple foods – things like cereal, cheese, milk, and granola bars.

These were already part of the normal school breakfast and lunch programs, but with the lockdown, we struggled with access to fresh foods through our normal supply chains, and increased prices.

By bringing all the schools together we were able to access bulk purchasing through a local supplier – meaning we could buy way more with less money by working together.

We were able to leverage the larger order to buy more fresh fruit than usual. In normal times, if something wasn’t available via the Food Depot Alimentaire, schools might be able to go buy it. In this case, price and availability were huge barriers (not to mention it was scary going to the grocery store for a while there!).

We were fortunate enough to get a grant from the United Way of Greater Moncton and Southeastern New Brunswick and we moved quickly, establishing supply points, packing places, deliveries and databases.

In case you ever wondered what 600 boxes looked like, here you are! These were donated by Master Packaging and delivered to our packing sites by Holly McNeil, from the village of Salisbury.

When we started, 22 families signed up, and when we wrapped up the program, we were up to 85 families and 151 youth across two different community hubs! We ran the program for the duration of the school year, which would be when breakfast and lunch programs would normally run.

By that time emergency benefits had been coming in, getting groceries wasn’t quite as challenging (or scary), and people were getting into our new normal. On our last two weeks of orders, we included print outs of how to access emergency benefits, free tax clinics (to receive child benefit) and food banks.

Those youth got access to close to 5,000 pounds of apples, 4,000 pounds of bananas, 1,000 cucumbers and a colossal amount of baby carrots in addition to their staple pantry items!

This would be a feat for any community, but it was also being done under COVID-19 precautions, meaning we had a very limited numbers of volunteers who had to keep their distance.

Normally in a project like this, volunteers are numerous and shoulder to shoulder – not in COVID-19 times though!

As I write this, it’s late July 2020, and when I checked back in with the planning team, every single one of them said this project was an incredibly rewarding experience.

I asked about highlights – one school principal told me of a cross stitch she was given as a thank you, another described the relief they heard in parents’ voices when they got the call about their delivery.

A gift to one of the school principals who made sure food was still available to their students, even when school was closed (this is only available in English).

For me, two things stuck out: how quickly everyone we asked to help said yes immediately, and the week that one team member went out and bought hundreds of chocolate bunnies to add as a treat over the Easter weekend.

It feels good to help, especially when things these days seem so outside of our control.

Kate has been a community developer with Horizon since 2018, but prior she worked in the non-profit and charitable sectors for many years. She is currently a student at the University of New Brunswick, having just completed its Renaissance College Leadership Program.

She passionate about social inclusion, bringing people together and encouraging communities to try brave, bold, new ideas. She’s always on the lookout for community leaders (especially those who don’t realize they are… yet!), so please feel free to reach out to her at Kate.Doyle@HorizonNB.ca.

She works supporting communities across the Moncton Area and would love to help you build healthier, stronger, more resilient communities one project at a time!

August 1, 2020 – June 5, 2020 was a momentous day for Albert County resident Kathy Chapman: after smoking for more than 40 years, she had been cigarette-free for one year.

Kathy started smoking when she was 18-years-old, and after moving to New Brunswick from Ontario, she knew she had to stop because of the amount of money she was spending.

“I was smoking a pack a day, 25 cigarettes,” Kathy said. “At close to $20 a pack, it was costing too much.”

Horizon Health Network (Horizon) is a centre of excellence for the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation (OMSC), which is a free, evidence-based, best practice model that integrates smoking cessation into the standard of care Horizon provides.

Mary Woodworth, a registered nurse at Horizon’s Albert County Community Health Centre (ACCHC), said OMSC offers different ways to quit smoking, catered to the client’s choice.

“We support and ask clients to choose a quit date, if we can, so we can give them a goal,” Mary said. “And we follow up once a week to see how they’re doing.”

“I couldn’t have done it without Mary and all the staff at the health centre, they were absolutely amazing,” Kathy said. “They were so supportive and caring. I couldn’t believe how wonderful they all were.”

Kathy had quit smoking, once before, for a year, but started again because of weight gain. So this time, before she started OMSC with Mary, she lost about 30 pounds to prepare.

“I did gain all 30 pounds back, and then some,” Kathy said. “But I am committed to quitting this time.”

Kathy Chapman

With the OMSC, Mary is able to connect clients to a dietitian, and any other member of the collaborative team at ACCHC, such as social workers.

Kathy began her quitting journey with Mary in May 2019.

“I did Champix in order to quit, but I found I had extreme side effects from it, so I just stopped taking it,” Kathy said. “But because of Mary, I was still able to quit. I was able to pick June 5 [2019] and I quit that day.”

During follow-up appointments, Mary listens to what clients are going through, and offers different ways to combat the cravings.

“When it’s a nice time of year, instead of smoking, maybe go for a walk outside, get some fresh air,” she said. “We help them make the right choices and regain their confidence.”

Throughout her quitting journey, Kathy said Mary was essential because their meetings were what kept her committed.

Then, in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic halted everything.

Throughout COVID-19, Mary has kept in touch with clients over the phone, rather than in person, and she said despite the added stress, her OMSC clients have done well.

“Those who quit, hadn’t started, and those who had cut back had still cut back,” Mary said. “Sometimes when you try things alone, you stumble and convince yourself that you don’t need to stay committed to quitting.”

Kathy needed encouragement to succeed, rather than accountability.

“She would always say ‘Don’t be hard on yourself,’ and ‘Don’t worry’,” Kathy said. “If I had someone on me, holding me accountable, I would have left the program. That’s the last thing I needed.”

Although she’s been smoke-free for more than a year now, Kathy still works hard to maintain

“I have major cravings, still. There’s a certain time, every day, where I still think ‘Oh, I’m going to go have a cigarette,’ and I have to remind myself that I don’t smoke,” she said. “It’s extremely hard to quit. It’s addictive. It’s a drug.”

As she continues to work through the OMSC, Kathy is concentrating on losing the weight.

“I’m still on this journey, even though I’ve quit for a year,” Kathy said. “Next year, at this time, I’ll be in an even better place.”

Kathy said on top of the support from Mary and the staff at ACCHC, her husband John has been by her side every step of the way.

“John has been a rock throughout my journey. He put up with a lot, but he just kept encouraging me and supporting me every single day,” Kathy said. “He still tells me out of the blue, at least once a week that he is so proud of me. I am very blessed.”

The OMSC is available through many of Horizon’s community health centres and clinics, and there is no referral needed. Talk to your health care provider or call your local health centre for more information.

Anyone in Albert County who’s interested in quitting smoking, can do so by calling the ACCHC at 506-882-3100.

“The program works. But unless you’re absolutely ready to quit, you’re not going to do it. It takes a lot of courage and strength,” Kathy said. “I know and I promise you, anybody who has it in their mind and they’re serious and they want to do it, go through this program and it’ll work.”

Mary Woodworth

Mary Woodworth is a lifelong resident of Hillsborough. She graduated from the Miss A.J. MacMaster School of Nursing 1988. Following stints in Saint John, and San Antonio, Texas, Mary began work at Horizon’s The Moncton Hospital (TMH) in 1991.

She worked in several different units at TMH over the years and transitioned to community nursing at Horizon’s Albert County Community Health Centre in August 2018.

Mary says it’s wonderful to work in her home community because she enjoys getting to know people in, seeing needs, and helping where she can.

Riverside-Albert, where Horizon’s Albert County Community Health Centre, is located in Albert County.
This is a rural area in the Southeastern part of the province on the Chignecto Bay in the Bay of Fundy, in the Moncton Area.

A Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) was completed for the Albert County Area in 2016. The next round of CHNAs are already underway.  

In addition to the community of Riverside-Albert, the Albert County Area includes the communities of Alma, Elgin, Germantown, Harvey, Hillsborough, and Hopewell.