Woodlawn wins with WeTHRIVE!

This story is part of our THRIVING for 10 Years series celebrating WeTHRIVE!’s 10th anniversary. Today we hear about ten years of WeTHRIVE! in the Village of Woodlawn, one of the initiative’s original three communities under the Strategic Alliance for Health grant.

Woodlawn resident Mary A. Wagner remembers her first WeTHRIVE! meeting ten years ago. “Before I left that meeting, I was voted coordinator for Woodlawn, which I was not expecting at all,” she said. But Mary was driven to get involved. “The statistics on the health of our community were very, very alarming.”

Mike Donohue, former vice mayor of Woodlawn, also saw how WeTHRIVE! could help his community. “I have a public health background and when I first heard about the opportunity, that the county health department was going to try to do something with the communities to promote and expand wellness, I was all in,” he said.

Over the past ten years, Woodlawn has become a healthier place to live, work, learn, and play. Here are just a few examples…

  • The village became the second tobacco-free municipality in Hamilton County.
  • A community garden provided fruits and vegetables to child care providers and residents without access to fresh produce. The picture at the top of this page shows the ribbon cutting for that first community garden (Mary is cutting the ribbon and Mike is behind her). The garden was brought back last year (read about it here).
  • Village fire, police, and recreation departments take part in Woodlawn Elementary’s Walk to School Days. Safe Routes to School grant funds will soon build new sidewalks.
  • Other grant funding and partnerships helped build a new pedestrian bridge and Greenway along the West Fork of the Mill Creek (read more here).

“Had it not been for WeTHRIVE! I am pretty much sure that we wouldn’t have those things in place,” Mary said. “WeTHRIVE! and Hamilton County Public Health supplied us with so many resources that we didn’t even know were out there.”

“It’s been a win-win all around,” Mike said. “From a WeTHRIVE! perspective, staff support and assistance has been phenomenal. The facilitation and the resource identification, we couldn’t have made the progress that we’ve made without it.”

Above all, Mike and Mary both value the connections fostered by WeTHRIVE!

“Maybe most beneficial of all is the networking with other communities that WeTHRIVE! provides,” Mike said. “You give us a platform to do that. In all the work that I do that’s outside of WeTHRIVE! and Woodlawn, I take WeTHRIVE! with me, and it’s helped to build connectivity within those communities.”

Mary especially appreciated the early years when the Woodlawn, Lockland, and Lincoln Heights WeTHRIVE! teams worked together. “The coalition we had with the other two communities was awesome because we learned so much from one another,” she said. “I know it strengthened our efforts.”

What will the next ten years bring for WeTHRIVE! in Woodlawn?

Mike: “My hope for the future is to increase the number of people at the table and make that table available to people from all communities, to expand WeTHRIVE! to our neighbors. Because we’ve had our most success working with our neighbors.”

Mary: “The village of Woodlawn is a tiny community, but my vision is to have a garden in east Woodlawn, west Woodlawn, north Woodlawn, and south Woodlawn. We want to be able to help the residents who don’t have access or maybe are not financially able to get fresh fruits and vegetables. We want to cover the entire village and help people like that. That’s my vision.”

Check out our Woodlawn THRIVES! playlist on our YouTube channel.

Read all our stories about WeTHRIVE! in Woodlawn: