On June 22, 2011, Roosevelt House hosted an event where Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize Award was given to the Union Settlement Association and Dr. Melony Samuels of Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger by President Raab.
The newly established prize is administered by the Hunter College Foundation and is designated for a not-for-profit organization and individual with distinguished accomplishment in the field of urban public health. The winners were chosen by a committee composed of Hunter College faculty and representatives from the health policy and advocacy communities and will each receive a prize of $10,000.
The Union Settlement Association, which seeks to meet the needs of 13,000 children and families, has been serving the East Harlem community for more than 116 years. It works in partnership with a range of health agencies, research institutions, universities and hospitals, and offers programs ranging from child care, Head Start and after school programs for youth to senior and mental health services.
One of Union Settlement’s leading achievements is its pioneering work to reduce childhood asthma, a longtime scourge in East Harlem. The Association is also a leader among local agencies in its efforts to reduce the health disparities faced by East Harlem families, who suffer from disproportionally high rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and HIV/AIDS.
Among the institutions Union Settlement has partnered with are Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Metropolitan Hospital, New York Academy of Medicine, Hunter College School of Social Work and Columbia University.
Dr. Melony Samuels is the founder and executive director of Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, which provides food and social services to more than 10,000 needy New Yorkers each month. In 1998, Samuels launched a small emergency food program, and eight years later she moved the much-expanded operation to larger quarters. Under her leadership, the program had grown into a supermarket-style center, the first of its kind in Brooklyn, which last year served approximately132,000 clients.
The Campaign’s mission is to end hunger by distributing food and empowering families through information and support, which will give both strength and dignity to the community. Through Dr. Samuels’ efforts, she has introduced innovative educational programs that range from cooking classes to a community garden to improve clients’ health and combat obesity.
The Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize is a component of the Joan H. Tisch Legacy Project, based at Hunter College and made possible with a five-year grant of over $1 million from her children, Steven Tisch, Laurie M. Tisch, and Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch. The other components are the Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellowship in Public Health and the Joan H. Tisch Public Health Forum.