The Allston Brighton Health Collaborative is a pivotal organization that serves our neighborhood and focuses on addressing social determinants of health. From food access to transportation advocacy, ABHC is an important pillar in our community. ABCDC works with ABHC and acts as its fiscal sponsor and we recently spoke with the Director, Anna Leslie, to discuss ABHC’s goals and priorities for the new year.
What is the main mission of your organization?
The Allston Brighton Health Collaborative is a collaboration of organizations devoted to working together to promote and improve the health and wellbeing of the communities of Allston and Brighton. Over six years, we have aligned our strategies for impact with the Department of Public Health to focus on key areas:
- Transportation through policy and advocacy
- Food Access through programming
- Mental Wellness and Immigrant Inclusion through capacity building
- Resource Connection through network strengthening
Due to the Covid19 public health crisis, we have pivoted significantly to coordinate, guide and maintain a connected neighborhood response network while still maintaining the work in our key focus areas. This has resulted in a more resilient resident experience of the health crisis. ABHC remains the only cross-sector network of its kind in the city, focusing on the social determinants of health and health-related social needs. It’s a burgeoning model of backbone, collective impact.
What are your main programs that you and other staff run?
Some of our signature work includes managing the Brighton Farmers Market, now entering its sixth year; leading our Transportation Committee, which was instrumental in the successful implementation of the Brighton Ave bus lane; hosting trainings on immigrant rights and resources; and hosting neighborhood resources including the community calendar, Covid-19 resources response calls, and the Allston Brighton Volunteer Food Delivery Network.
How long have you worked for your organization?
I joined the Collaborative in June 2014 as the part-time Coordinator. I became part-time Director in 2018 and full-time Director in 2019.
What are some of the accomplishments from 2020 that you are most proud of?
Our model proved what can be achieved in a public health crisis, and I am so proud of that. Within days of a declared State of Emergency, dozens of our stakeholders began meeting multiple times per week to distribute PPE, set up food delivery systems, share safety information and updates, and support each other. Those meetings continue 10 months later and it’s where our elected leaders hear directly from their partners and constituents, charitable funds are established, and testing and vaccine coordination happens. And as a result, our volunteers have made over 1,000 food deliveries to their neighbors.
This doesn’t just happen, but relies on years of relational networking and base building. It relies on trust and investment in the backbone infrastructure of a network. We have been successful this year because of that slow and steady work from years past.
What goals are you excited to accomplish in 2021?
We are honored and thrilled to begin 2021 with the support of the Charlesview Charitable Fund. Their support will allow us to expand our work to increase healthy food access and bring more programs into Allston-Brighton. We will of course continue our leadership of the Covid-19 response, including that vaccine distribution reaches our community in equitable ways.
Do you think your organization has benefitted from having ABCDC as a fiscal sponsor?
ABCDC’s fiscal sponsorship has been invaluable to ABHC’s growth and success. It allows us to be nimble and responsive, knowing that the CDC’s strong organizational infrastructure will support the nuts and bolts of running the Collaborative, including health insurance, accounting, and even photo copies. An organization of our size needs that helping hand and we’re so grateful for the partnership!