Thursday, July 7, 2005
Teen Births Up in South County
Twice as many teenagers in South Monterey County are getting pregnant than on the Peninsula, according to a recent report by the Monterey County Health Department.
“We look at what percent of all the births in an area were to teens under the age of 17,” says Linda McGlone, coordinator of teen pregnancy prevention for the county Health Department. “There were 64 births to teens in South County. That doesn’t sound like much, but there aren’t that many births there.”
According to the study, titled, “Monterey County Health Profile 2004: Women and Men,” there were 1,388 total births in South County last year; 5 percent of those were to teen moms. In contrast, only 32 of the 1,559 births on the Peninsula were to teenage mothers—about 2 percent.
“It’s a lack of education, poverty, and just different cultural norms, really,” McGlone says. “Cultural norms that may be more accepting of teen parenting.”
McGlone says that the Health Department is actively combating the high teenage birth rates in South County by providing comprehensive sexual education in the schools. But, she says, the key may lie in providing more recreational activities for teenagers.
“We need to be giving kids something to do after school,” she says. “Recreational activities like sports that help them stay out of trouble.”
The study examines and compares the health status of women and men in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties, and further compares these county findings to California data and the national Healthy People 2010 Objectives. Health indicators that are examined include chronic disease, cancer, reproductive health, mental health, and prevention measures including weight and physical activity, nutrition and smoking.[RM]
<>Salinas Housing Project Breaks Ground>
In Monterey County, approximately 24,000 people suffer from serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance. Interim Incorporated, a Monterey County nonprofit organization, develops housing for low-income adults with severe psychiatric disabilities, like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Interim provides 213 transitional housing, permanent housing, and treatment beds in 18 locations around Monterey County. On July 6, Interim began construction of a new permanent affordable housing project, known as Lupine Gardens, in central Salinas.
Lupine Gardens, Interim’s 15th construction project in Monterey County, will consist of 20 efficiency units: studio apartments with a kitchen, full bathroom, and combination sleeping/living room. There will also be offices for support services, a community room, and a resident manager apartment.
“There is a waiting list with 145 names on it,” says Interim Development Director Diana Trapani. “The need is tremendous and this will only make a small dent in that need.”
To be eligible for any of Interim’s programs, participants must be diagnosed with a serious mental illness and be homeless or at risk of homelessness. With assisted living programs, Interim hopes to create a bridge from homelessness or institutionalization to independent living.
“We offer an alternative, says Trapani. “We give these people a chance to live a normal life instead of being institutionalized.”
Lupine Gardens will offer services along with housing, such as case management and social support. The program also provides links to other services such a medical care, education, employment, and food banks.
The $4,790,266 needed to fund Lupine Gardens took 3 years to raise and came from city, county, and state government, and foundation grants. $65,000 is still required to complete the project, which is expected to take a year to construct. Trapani says the project could save taxpayers money.
“[An estimated] 30 percent of homeless people have a mental illness,” she says. “People in the field think it is closer to 50 percent. Homeless people use the public services, like police, and getting them off the street reduces the amount of money used to support them. By putting money into offering an alternative, you save in the long run and improve the quality of neighborhoods.”
<>For more information about Interim, or to donate to Lupine Gardens, call 649-4522. [KH]>
Parker’s New Post
The ACTION Council of Monterey County on July 5 announced that Jane Parker will be the organization’s new associate executive director.
“My adult life has been spent looking for ways to give people the tools they need to live productive lives,” Parker says. “This organization’s commitment to action, outcomes and systems change is a perfect fit for me.”
Parker most recently served as vice president of development at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. In 2004, she ran for County Supervisor, narrowly losing the District 4 seat to now Supervisor Jerry Smith, by 200 votes. During the campaign, Parker listed affordable housing as a top priority. She will continue to work to solve the county’s housing crunch in her new position.
<>“Jane’s community stature and entrepreneurial spirit is just what the ACTION Council needs right now,” says Ricki Mazzullo, the Council’s executive director. “Her experience in small business, public service, and nonprofits will be invaluable as we launch a new nonprofit next year, look for innovative ways to bring in revenue, and seek to provide a spark to our county’s most urgent unmet need—affordable housing.” [JL]>