Since the Winchester Community Center was inaugurated last summer, with funding from the Legacy Foundation of Southeast Arizona, and contributions from many partners, the community’s transformation has been remarkable. A fenced playground, a soccer field, a sturdy, bright blue building in the center of the neighborhood, have become a magnet and generator of civic and social activity. Once known for its lack of infrastructure and services, Winchester Heights now hosts a wide variety of activities at the new community center.
To learn more about the success of the Winchester Heights Community Center construction project, SEAHEC conducted a survey of Winchester Heights residents and community partners. We looked at how the facility has been used in its first year of operation. We looked at who is using the facility and what types of services and activities are available there. We also tried to determine the extent to which these services and activities were unavailable or difficult to access before the facility opened.
What We Learned
From our survey, SEAHEC found that the community center has made a significant improvement in the quality of life for Winchester Heights residents.
Access to a central location for community gatherings has been a “game changer” for residents, as one community partner described it. The level of engagement has surpassed our bravest hopes. Community residents have come together to continue the property’s development, adding a soccer field that is constantly in use, planting trees, a garden and raising funds to pay the bills. In addition, having access to the center for service delivery has made community outreach more efficient, convenient and cost-effective for agencies.
A Community Health Worker Driven Model for Rural Border Community Development
Since we launched Cochise County’s first farm-based community health worker team in 2013, the residents of Winchester Heights have made more progress in realizing their dream of a safe, healthy and prosperous community than they made in the previous 20 years. But the past two years have seen the most dramatic change. The community center is both critical infrastructure and an indelible symbol of hope for this community and others like it. Our strategy for rural health delivery is unique and scalable. Community health worker driven advocacy leverages public health issues to develop infrastructure needed to jump-start economic development in rural communities.