Jefferson County, Colo. — In the midst of the greatest public health challenge facing our nation in decades, it’s easy to lose sight of the victories that happen in our community every day. But now, more than ever, it’s important to recognize that public health isn’t just something that happens within the walls of the health department – it’s something that takes all of us, together, working toward safer, healthier and more connected communities.
This year for National Public Health Week, April 6-12, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is honoring five community partners who have made public health their priority, even if it’s not their day-to-day job. Through their efforts, Jefferson County is a safer and healthier place to live, work, play and grow for all of us every day, but especially in the face of a challenge like COVID-19. Their efforts have made our water supply safer. They’ve increased food security for vulnerable populations. They’ve brought together people in our community to grow their own food. They’ve looked out for the mental health of the youngest residents of Jefferson County, and they’ve helped youth in our community quit tobacco while finding footing for their future.
“The 2019 Public Health Champions help make Jefferson County the wonderful place it is. Without robust community participation and dedication like theirs, our county wouldn’t be able to grow and thrive,” said Dr. Mark B. Johnson, Executive Director of JCPH. “This year, on the 25th anniversary of National Public Health Week, we’re proud to look back at the contributions these individuals and groups have made and look forward to the future we can have together if we continue to work collectively toward the best Jefferson County possible.”
The 2019 Public Health Champions, honored for their contributions leading into and during last year, will be recognized at a ceremony held at a to-be-determined date. Please click the links below to watch profile videos of each champion.
Josh Shirley, Shirley Septic | Pine, CO
Josh Shirley, co-owner of Shirley Septic in Pine, CO, prioritizes his clients and educates them on their onsite wastewater treatment, or septic, systems. This education-based approach allows Shirley to make a positive impact on the environment and on the lives of each of his clients during every interaction. From permitting to operations, maintenance to repairs, Shirley Septic works with JCPH consistently to ensure Jefferson County’s mountain communities have safe, clean water by protecting groundwater sources. Shirley, who calls himself a “poo guy,” says his passion is helping those in his community.
Shellie McKeown, Mountain Resource Center | Conifer, CO
When Shellie McKeown moved to Conifer, she used Mountain Resource Center’s services herself, and immediately knew she wanted to be a part of the organization. Now their Community Health Coordinator, McKeown works tirelessly to improve food security and access to nutrition resources for Conifer and the surrounding communities. McKeown works with the Jefferson CountyFood Policy Council to tackle issues related to food security and brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. Her kindness and hunger for helping those who need it most is evident in all she does.
Melissa Winters, Sunshine Community Garden | Arvada, CO
Melissa Winters has been a gardener with the Sunshine Community Garden since it began in 2018, but what she grows there is much more than vegetables and herbs. Winters gives the majority of what she grows to others who need it more, especially to young, single mothers who may not otherwise have access to fresh, healthy foods. Through her volunteer efforts and dedication, Winters has helped foster a true community spirit among those who participate in the Sunshine Community Garden.
Katie Greisch, Briana Johannesen, Joy Wishtun, Victoria Becker and Sue Barnett, LAUNCH Together, Jefferson Center | Jefferson County, CO
The LAUNCH Together team at Jefferson Center, under the direction of Katie Greisch, has elevated early childhood mental health as a priority in Jefferson County. Now in the final year of a four-year grant, the LAUNCH Together team has worked together to create a community-wide initiative that has brought together partners from many sectors to increase support, awareness and resources for positive social emotional health and development for Jefferson County’s youngest residents.
Don Daniels, Chatfield High School | Littleton, CO
As a trained facilitator of the American Lung Association’s Not On Tobacco Program, Chatfield High School teacher Don Daniels goes above and beyond to ensure the students who enter his classroom are supported in all facets of their high school journey. Daniels works on a shoestring budget to ensure students who need it are given tobacco cessation support, especially in the face of a changing tobacco use landscape including vaping. He works with any and all students who come into his classroom, making sure they have someone they can turn to during the pivotal teenage years.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is a nationally accredited health department committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan for all people through prevention, education and partnerships. To learn more about JCPH visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH, Instagram @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.