Goodbye, and good health

Published 9:16 pm Thursday, January 3, 2013

When Jaya Tawari joined the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community as its first paid executive director in 2010, the organization had already achieved some successes in its work to improve the health of Suffolk citizens. Most notably, the Partnership had been closely linked with the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, and the two nonprofit organizations had been bound to the same goals.

Today, while the WTFC and the Partnership are both still obviously interested in working to helping people in Suffolk and the surrounding area become healthier, there is a distinctive difference in focus between the two organizations. The clinic continues to offer free healthcare to those who lack health insurance in Western Tidewater and has, in fact, expanded its services since it became independent of the Partnership’s oversight in 2009. The Partnership, on the other hand, is now free to focus its efforts on broader issues.

Today, members of the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community spend a significant amount of time and effort working to change the unhealthy attitudes and habits of a community, the idea being that helping people learn healthy lifestyles will help them stay healthy longer.

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Tawari served at the head of the Partnership as it shifted its full weight behind that effort, and she helped grow the organization’s Suffolk on the Move and community garden initiatives. She also helped to establish the Healthy Youth Ambassador Program and Positive Lifestyle Commitment Program, and she helped launch the 10-year Healthy People/Healthy Suffolk plan.

She left the Partnership late last month to move to Washington, D.C., because of her husband’s work, officials said, and they praised her for her “untiring service, unwavering dedication and exemplary leadership” during a recent farewell luncheon.

A new executive director took over on Thursday, and there’s every reason to believe he will continue the Partnership’s good work. But it’s appropriate for folks in Suffolk to stop and recognize the contribution Jaya Tawari has made to the health of the city, to thank her for her service to the city and to wish her well in the nation’s capital.