Cherokee Nation recognizes community non-profit Partners for Ottawa County, Inc. (POCI) for programs and services accomplished through the tribe's PICH grant.

MIAMI – Community coalition Partners for Ottawa County, Inc. (POCI), was recognized Thursday by the Cherokee Nation for its community works.

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, POCI is comprised of community, agency, and business members working for the betterment of residents in Ottawa County.

Representatives of the Cherokee Nation attended POCI's monthly meeting Aug. 10 to present the award, which acknowledges the group's accomplishments through the tribe's Partners in Community Health (PICH) grant.

In 2014 Cherokee Nation Health Services was awarded $900,000 per year for three years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to serve as the lead agency to coordinate efforts across the Cherokee Nation Tribal Jurisdictional Service Area, which includes Ottawa County.

Over the last three years, POCI has used PICH funding to help implement several important community initiatives. Among them are the Ottawa County and Fairland farmers markets, Farm to School education programs in Afton and Fairland, school cooks training for Ottawa and Delaware Counties, as well as several tobacco education and cessation projects.

Cindy Tuder, Health Educator for the Cherokee Nation presented the award plaque to POCI Board President Jordan Barlow accompanied by Hillary Mead and Jeff Williams, with Cherokee Nation Public Health Services.

After recapping some of the programs PICH has helped to facilitate, many in conjunction with POCI, Tuder expressed her joy in working with Ottawa County.

"PICH has been fun, and I've really enjoyed working with everyone up here in this county," said Tuder. "...Jordan has been awesome to jump on board and go with it, so we want to present you guys, POCI, with this plaque."

Barlow accepted the award extending her gratitude on behalf of the coalition.

"I really want to thank PICH for this opportunity, because we are excited to continue a lot of what they have already done," said Barlow. "I know that some of our strategies moving forward through our action groups are going to incorporate the farmer's markets and the resources you've left behind in the Afton and Fairland schools. So, we greatly appreciate all you have done and look forward to continuing to work together."

Tuder then introduced Williams who serves as her supervisor through Cherokee Nation Public Health Services, who added that he had heard good things about POCI and their work.

"It's our goal to improve nutrition and improve health all across Cherokee Nation. Cindy, she works with Ottawa and Delaware Counties and does a great job here, and I want to commend her for work," said Williams. "I also want to tell you all that I hear good things. It has all been very positive, and we appreciate the fact that you have been able to collaborate with us and work with us, and hopefully, we can do it again in the future if the funds are there."

POCI's ongoing efforts

At its July meeting, the POCI Board addressed the organization's ongoing efforts to restructure their approach toward becoming more action oriented.

"POCI is moving forward with becoming more action based instead of just coming together and reporting," said POCI Board Vice President Maria Olson. "It's really important for everyone to stay abreast of and involved in these action groups as they're meeting and as we move forward with POCI and restructuring to put more focus on these action groups."

During POCI's regular monthly sessions action groups report on recent activities before breaking out into their sub-groups to discuss ongoing projects and coordinate new initiatives for their area of focus.

Currently, there are two actions groups within POCI - Poverty and Youth Development.

POCI is also a significant contributor to ROCET (Recognizing Ottawa County Educators and Teachers), which was organized by POCI member Tracie DeLano to help support and provide professional development for Ottawa County educators.

Members of the POCI Board are Jordan Barlow, President; Maria Olson, Vice President; Dan Weiser, Secretary; James Pliant, Treasurer; Lee Hilliard, Board Member and Tyler Hubbard, Board Member.

The coalition meets at noon on the second Thursday of every month at the Ottawa County Courthouse Annex community room, 123 E. Central, in Miami.

Dorothy Ballard is the managing news editor for the Miami News-Record. Contact her at dballard@miaminewsrecord.com and follow her on Twitter @dm_ballard.

Editor's Note: This article expands on a piece published in the Aug. 11 print edition of the Miami News-Record to include quotes from the POCI Board and representatives of the Cherokee Nation and information about POCI's support of ROCET.