Hospital News

New Hometown Healthy Partnership out to improve community’s quality of life


Jeff Alderton, Cumberland Times News

CUMBERLAND — Third-graders throughout Allegany County are helping the Western Maryland Health System [UPMC Western Maryland] launch its new community outreach program. “The Hometown Healthy Partnership is a collaboration between local health and social service providers and community leaders to improve the health of our community,” said Jo Wilson, vice president in population health.

“We’re looking to meet people where they are. We want to show our community that no matter where they are, Hometown Healthy Partnership is there to support them,” she said.

Spaghetti dinners, bingo nights and various other planned events — such as the Frostburg Derby — will provide opportunities for the program. “As we meet with community members and learn about their hometown, we will expand our ideas and identify other partners who’d be able to help toward this initiative,” Wilson said. “By joining established gatherings, we can help educate our community about living healthy through fun activities, like how to build a healthy picnic plate.”

The initiative includes a summer-long healthy competition between Allegany County hometowns, where participants can earn points that will make them eligible to win prizes such as an iPad, an iPhone, a Yeti cooler and other awards.

At summer’s end, the Hometown Healthy Partnership will host the 2019 Firemen’s Challenge, which will involve local firefighters in feats of skill and strength. “While joining friends and family for a fun day of competition, you can take advantage of free healthy screenings and learn more about local resources offered by Hometown Healthy Partners, earning more points for your hometown. At the end of the event, the hometown with the most points wins with every participant in the winning hometown eligible to win some big prizes,” Wilson said.

Cumberland is supporting the program. “The City of Cumberland is pleased to join Western Maryland Health System [UPMC Western Maryland] on the Hometown Healthy Initiative. By taking part in the many fun, healthy activities and events that will take place this summer, our community members will learn how to improve their overall health and well-being while having a good time doing so,” said Mayor Ray Morriss.

The Allegany County Department of Social Services is also on board. “Hometown Healthy is a no-cost program for community residents, designed to help people identify ways to make healthy choices that enhance their health and the communities well-being in a fun and interactive way,” said Courtney Thomas-Winterberg, the department’s director.

Beginning last week, mini-gardens were distributed to every third-grader in Allegany County. They include a cherry tomato plant and a flower. “The tomato plant is being used to help the third-graders to learn where some of their food comes from and how it grows,” Wilson said. “These tomato plants are the ‘seed’ we’re planting in the community so people will recognize the Hometown Healthy Partnership when they are out and about this summer,” she said.

Latest information on program events and news will be available at