The story of Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition begins with Ms. Yvonka Marie Hall, who through childhood tragedy, compounded by multiple subsequent losses, came to understand, firsthand, the multidimensional impacts health disparities have for African American communities.
Trauma has permeated Yvonka’s life, but she has made purpose from her pain. As a 6-year-old, she and her younger brothers witnessed their father murder their mother. When Yvonka was 19, her 15-year-old brother Antoine was murdered. The following year while on the phone with Yvonka, her best friend Tracey was murdered by her estranged husband.– Policy Matters Ohio, Profile Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition
Although those experiences would have turned others to despair, Yvonka did indeed “make purpose from her pain.” Yvonka M. Hall, MPA serves as the Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition and co-founder of the Cleveland Lead Safe Network. As a mother, grandmother, “activist, leader, influencer, speaker, researcher and philanthropist,” Yvonka fights for social and health justice at home and across the country..
The Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, founded in 2011, works to address inequities in the African American community in education, employment, housing and health, by working to empower, educate and advocate for under-served populations. It is the first organization in the State of Ohio to specifically work on disparities in the black community and in the 2020’s has grown dramatically.
Like Yvonka, each team member of NEOBHC brings with them the inherent perspective of the communities they serve.
- Dr. Lashale Pugh, Asst Exec. Director, presenting to audiences nationally, highlights factors resulting in disparities in health outcomes, community-level health and disease patterns, and food justice issues.
- Rev. Dr. Zachery Williams, African American Public Policy Director, is also the “Director of the Africana Cultures and Policy Studies Institute, a non-partisan scholar-activist public policy think tank that uses African American History to understand and solve major public policy issues and social problems.”
NEOBHC’s goal is health parity for the African-American community, ultimately rebuilding a relationship of trust with the medical profession and improving the quality of their lives. The focus of the organization’s social justice work demonstrates this:
- LEAV: Ladies Escaping All Violence
- MOVE: Men Overcoming Violent Environments
- The State of Disparities Conference Series
- Environmental Racism
- Food Insecurity
NEOBHC lead Initiatives:
- Babies and Brunch
- Mental Health and The Department of Justice
- Meals 4 Mommas
- Delivering Hope
- Midnight Meals with a Message
- Urban Community CPR Training
- Lead Poisoning and African Americans
- Environmental Racism
- Policies not Politics
- Opioid Crisis and the Black Community
- Effectively Engaging the African American Community
- Utility Disparities
- Southern Soul: Healthy Cooking Program
- Local Conversations: Community Focused Solution Gathering Workshop
Whether it’s providing food for children and their families, or masks, hand sanitizer and vaccines along with lunch and a bottle of water to protect against COVID-19, hunger and loneliness, it all amounts to providing what Yvonka calls a “gentle hand.”
We try to make sure we put in the little things that people might not think about within easy reach.– Yvonka M. Hall
NEOBHC brings what Yvonka envisioned from the beginning to life, reaching into the dark corners, casting a bright and healing light to those in need. That light brings empowerment to a community so often ostracized, there never seemed to be a point in taking action—until now. Yvonka discovered the largest impact can come with shifting sands.
When I was younger, I used to think I wanted to be important, so I wanted to be a big rock. God wasn’t preparing me to be a big rock. God wanted me to be the sand because I can get in the places that the big rock can never go.– Yvonka M. Hall
Written by Michele Gielis
Yvonka M. Hall
Air Pollution, Water Contamination
Affordable Housing, Community Farm/Gardens, Direct Relief and Aid, Fighting Industrial Contamination, Green Infrastructure, Nature-Based Solutions, Policy Reform, Renewable Energy
501c3 Tax Deductible