“WHY I’M IN …” Anne Goetze, Senior Director of Nutrition Affairs, Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council (ODNC)

Tillamook County Wellness continues its work because of the extraordinary level of engagement and collaboration among partners, volunteers and the community. The series “Why I’m In,” features what has inspired and motivated people to work toward a common goal of improving community health.

What drew you/your organization into Tillamook County Wellness?
The Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council serves on behalf of farmers and processors in Oregon to build confidence and trust in dairy and the important role dairy foods play in a healthy diet. In 2014, we proposed a Learning Connection Town Hall event to our statewide partners in nutrition and health, and they all pointed to Tillamook County. We found a group of very strong leaders committed to wellness and were off and running. At the Town Hall in 2015 Commissioner Baertlein shared his vision for a “Year of Wellness” and launched what has become a successful countywide effort. It was a natural fit. It was the right thing to do.

What, if any, changes have you seen come about as a result of this work?
Through this work, the community is generating connections at an even deeper level to work toward a common goal for greater impact. For example, the YMCA is now collaborating with the Columbia Pacific CCO to offset membership fees for families on the Oregon Health Plan and they are partnering with Northwest Senior & Disability Services and local healthcare providers to offer year-long Diabetes Prevention Classes. At the end of our first year, the Y reported continuous increases in membership since the Year of Wellness began – something that had never happened before.

What have you learned from being involved in this work?
This experience has reinforced that theoretical principles can be translated in practical ways. I have never worked on a project quite like this. It has all the right elements. It’s based on solid, reliable, evidence-based research and it incorporates community connectivity and shared values. Bringing people together with a common vision is really powerful.

What are your hopes for this work as it relates to you/your organization?
We know that healthy eating helps prevent disease and that dairy products are an irreplaceable part of a healthy diet. Every week there are more studies that support the consumption of dairy foods, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and protein foods to prevent diabetes and improve health. We are excited to share this through Tillamook County Wellness.

What are your hopes for this work as it relates to changing population health in Tillamook County.
Of course I want people to make healthier food choices and be more physically active. I want people to love food and to be well. This doesn’t have to be complicated. People often put off making these changes because they feel overwhelmed. It’s really about taking small steps. There’s something here for everyone.