The primary focus of Healthy Foundations, says CEO DeLaine Hunter, is to help people who are struggling, often with multiple issues, fully take back their lives and become thriving members of society. But the mission extends far beyond that, too.

During a public Zoom meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9, Hunter and other Healthy Foundations officers outlined plans to build a world-class campus on the 374 acres the group recently purchased in Walker County and create a facility that will be an example of excellence and replicable other places.

The facility, if built, would primarily serve Walker, Catoosa, Chattooga and Dade counties.

Hunter says that eventually Healthy Foundations expects to employ around 250 people with an average salary of $70,000.

Healthy Foundations has already attracted the attention of some major universities who want to send students to do internships, says Chief Operating Officer Terry Tucker. The fact that the Healthy Foundations campus will have housing for such students is another draw.

The Zoom meeting was conducted mostly by Chief Programs Officer Dr. Jeff Bailey, who has worked extensively as a consultant helping organizations reach their full potential. Bailey is a graduate of Duke University in Durham, N.C., and of Cambridge University in England. He also taught at Cambridge and was managing director of the London-based Centre for Social Justice.

During the Zoom meeting, Bailey explained the problems Healthy Foundations plans to address and some of the solutions they will employ.

  • There are four primary focuses of Healthy Foundations, said Bailey: Mind-body-spirit health and wellness; housing stability to make it easier for people to move forward in other areas of their lives and including housing for veterans and for young people aging out of the foster care system; job training, financial literacy and employment; and education for people at all stages of life.
  • Bailey emphasized the need to use evidence-based interventions and rigorous data to track outcomes. He said all successful organizations keep careful records of what’s working and what’s not and base decisions on that data. He said Healthy Foundations will adhere to the same practice.
  • Bailey said it’s important for various agencies that are helping an individual or a family to work together, to be on the same page, so to speak, communicating with one another and making sure their programs and plans have a “collective impact” on people and not a scattered, disconnected effect.
  • Bailey emphasized that Healthy Foundations will be working with experts in various fields, partnering with local groups and agencies, as well as with groups from elsewhere to provide an integrated and holistic experience for those who seek help.
  • Another goal of Healthy Foundations, said Bailey, is to become a thought facilitator and leader in the realm of helping people transform their lives, to engage in deep and honest conversation and spread working ideas statewide, countrywide and even worldwide. One way, the organization plans to do that is through events held at their planned conference center.

Many of Healthy Foundations’ services will be available to the community, not only to those who live on the campus, say Hunter and Tucker. The organization will also impact the community by providing jobs locally and revenue from out-of-town guests during conferences and events.

Hunter says that as she and Tucker have been meeting with community leaders and residents, support for Healthy Foundations has grown. “People are beginning to understand our vision better,” Hunter says. “They’re starting to realize all the good this will bring to the area.”

Tucker recently moved to Walker County so he can be closer to the work and spend more time talking with people, including residents, government, other nonprofits and businesses. “One thing we want people to know,” says Tucker, “is that no one can do this alone. Nonprofits cannot do it alone, government cannot do it alone, businesses cannot do it alone. It takes all of us working together in a collaborative way.

“Healthy Foundations has been in the works for six or seven years,” Tucker says. “A lot of research has gone into what is planned, research backed up by data and experience.”

“Our goal is to be a center of excellence,” says Hunter. “We look forward to partnering with others who are equally committed. We want a collaboration of excellence in order to help people overcome challenges and reach their full potential.”

“One of the things that’s been very humbling for us,” says Tucker, “is the number of people that have reached out to us that have a tremendous amount of experience, all the way up to the Veterans Affairs Department, that want to be part of a solution. We’re planning for those sort of partnerships in the programs and the space we’re creating.”

Funding for Healthy Foundations, says Hunter, is largely private but will include some government funding at the federal level in the form of veteran housing vouchers and other things. No funding, she says, is from local government.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga. 

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