Giving Rural Areas the Tools to Thrive
I grew up in Mebane, NC, way before the Tanger Outlets became a landmark and even before much of today’s public transportation existed. Football pep rallies were the talk of the town. My graduating high school only had 110 seniors. Like so many of them, I was focused on college as my way out of our small town. However, years later, I am back in Mebane, and while the town has grown since my youth, it still maintains that positive small-town comradery that holds a special place in my heart. The roots of rural North Carolina are still deeply embedded in Mebane’s core.
Mebane is part of Alamance County, one of the 80 out of 100 counties considered rural in North Carolina. Rural communities are the areas that many of us or our friends and family call home. And as larger cities grow and prosper, we cannot forget about our rural areas. At Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), we want all communities to thrive, and in every community, much of the economic engine comes from our teachers, firemen and local small businesses who help enrich the lives of all of us.
I’m fortunate to have grown up and experienced life in a small town and all that is has to offer, but I also know firsthand the struggles our community faced. When we began discussions on investing in rural parts of the state, I was overjoyed to see how our partnerships across the state would help us make positive impacts on people in rural communities like my hometown.
Blue Cross NC has invested in programs like these, which address the unique challenges facing rural areas in North Carolina:
- North Carolina Community Action Association – The investment will expand the Healthy Home Initiative to an additional 38 rural counties and 165 additional families. The initiative makes health-centered home repairs for families in the far western and eastern parts of North Carolina.
- North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition – The investment will increase access to Naloxone/Narcan for EMS First Responders on the front lines of preventing overdose deaths.
- North Carolina Community Colleges – The investment will support technology and scholarships benefitting more than 4,000 students and increase the number of certified firefighters.
- NC State Firefighters Association – The investment will help volunteer fire and rescue departments purchase quality equipment and supplies to do their jobs correctly.
- East Carolina University and Appalachian State University – The investment will support scholarships awarded to community college transfer students who wish to teach in their home communities.
- InterAct – The investment will increase interpersonal violence screening through the Lethality Assessment Program (LAP) program, a life-saving intervention for families experiencing domestic violence.
- NC Association of Free & Charitable Clinics – The investment will expand quality programs for health care delivery to the uninsured, focusing on the role of social determinant interventions in improving health for the population.
- YMCA – The investment will expand Learn to Swim, a YMCA program offering free swim lessons to children from Title I schools during the school year.
In rural North Carolina, when a neighbor needs help, you help. As a part of improving rural health in communities like mine – and in our commitment to serving all 100 counties in North Carolina – we took a closer look at factors that have some of the greatest impacts on overall rural health and partnered with these wonderful organizations, which will bring positive change to the areas they serve.