Over the last three years, BUILD awardees have been working toward addressing social determinants of health and advancing health equity in their communities. To commemorate the end of our third cohort and spotlight their impactful work, we will be sharing each of our 18 communities’ stories — highlighting the partners’ collaborative approach to creating meaningful change in their community, the challenges they faced, and the transformative impact of these efforts for residents.

Seniors participate in the age-friendly community survey

Known as “The Biggest Little City in the World,” Reno’s booming population and subsequent lack of affordable housing, higher cost of living, and lack of walkable neighborhoods continues to create major barriers to healthy living for its senior citizens. Stemming from social isolation and seniors lack of connection to vital health resources, seniors age 65 or older living in the city’s 89512 zip code have been the harvest hit; Washoe County, NV for example having a suicide rate twice that of the national average for people 65 and older and four times the national average for those 85 and older. Connecting the dots between higher rate of depression, suicide, chronic disease, lower quality of life and shortened lifespans.

In collaboration with BUILD, the Hello Project is a program focused on increasing social connectedness and reducing the health and mortality issues associated with loneliness. The program aims to build a cohesive social network for the elders in our community focused on volunteerism, connection to resources, information sharing, and advocacy and its main impact is to increase the overall health and well-being of the elders in our community. This goal will be achieved through an increase in volunteerism, connection between existing and new social service activities and organizations, participation in recreational activities, and an increase in awareness of elder health and well-being.

Over the past three years, the Reno BUILD community has been able to:

  • Partner with The Hello Project to welcome 2,500 senior citizen participants in It Starts with HELLO meetings;
  • Proactively monitor and survey 400 senior households about their health needs;
  • And bring together 20 community partners involved in bettering the lives of our area seniors.

“As a longtime community elders advocate, I think the HELLO/ BUILD Health [award] brought elders who have become isolated since COVID out of their homes, and connected them to each other and to services they need to live healthier lives, with shot clinics, fresh foods, information about accessing affordable housing and transportation, and warm social interactions with each other.”
—Donna Clontz, Reno Senior Citizen Advisory Committee

Read more about The Hello Project’s impact in Reno, NV and stay tuned monthly for more BUILD community stories!