Community meetings and surveys of residents across age groups have helped the collaborative identify dreams and needs and define priorities. The town’s small size has also been a tremendous asset in building close-knit relationships and ensuring input from as many people as possible.
"We got together as a team, as a community, and moved the conversation from being about what we don’t have to being about what it is that we want,” said Drew resident Gloria Dickerson, CEO of We2gether Creating Change and a Drew resident.
Addressing the town’s aging and deteriorated housing stock was one of the first opportunities to improve well-being that the collaborative took on. Other resident-identified priorities include building recreational spaces for youth, such as a new playground that went up in 2018; increasing access to food by launching an online grocery ordering system; and improving the physical environment through community cleanup days, which take place frequently throughout the year.
Cultivating partnerships outside of Drew has been crucial to carrying out the town’s vision for the community and moving the needle on health. Many outside partners have joined the Drew Collaborative to help bring residents’ vision to life.
For example, a partnership with Plan A Health, an organization that provides free healthcare services to communities in the Mississippi Delta, enabled the collaborative to make progress on its goal of improving access to healthcare in the community. Starting this year, Plan A Health’s mobile clinic has made regular visits, providing free reproductive health services, testing blood pressure and glucose levels, and offering other much-needed services identified by Drew residents. By coming to the community, this service has also helped overcome transportation barriers to care faced by many in the town.