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Volunteers for Youth Awarded 5-Year Grant from Tobacco Endowment Settlement Trust (TSET)

The TSET Board of Directors recently awarded nearly $7 million to 35 organizations serving 37 counties through the TSET Healthy Living Program 2.0 program. Volunteers for Youth was once again awarded this funding for Rogers County after successful completion of a previous five-year award from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.
The new grant program begins July 1 and Sarah Filipek will join existing TSET HLP staff member Amber Brassfield as an Assistant Project Coordinator. Jody Reiss will take the reigns as Project Coordinator.
Filipek joins Volunteers for Youth after serving as the Recreation Coordinator at Claremore Recreation Center since 2018. A health and fitness enthusiast, Filipek plans to use her knowledge to further improve access to healthy choices and provide access to resources that will help Rogers County citizens succeed in their health and wellness journey. Filipek is also passionate about helping others follow her lead in kicking the tobacco habit.
Reiss and Brassfield have served as project directors with the TSET HLP project in Rogers County since 2015 and have been instrumental in local communities, congregations, school districts, businesses and other community organizations improving their practices and strengthening their policies around tobacco, physical activity and nutrition. Two Rogers County communities (Claremore and Talala) each adopted policy that helped them achieve “Leader” status in overall workplace wellness. Two communities (Talala and Inola) achieved “Leader” status and Oologah achieved “Builder” status as Tobacco Free with the adoption of policy at the community level. Five local businesses achieved “Leader” status or higher in the area of workplace wellness.
Fifteen community institutions and congregations adopted tobacco free policies and fourteen of these also strengthened or adopted policies around physical activity and the nutritional profile of foods available. Seven Rogers County school districts strengthened policies around nutrition while six improved their tobacco and physical activity policies.
The TSET HLP team also created a Healthy Food Retail Task Force that resulted in the new Rogers County Farmers Market. Reiss aided in the development of the Claremore Comprehensive Plan and conducted walk audits in an effort to enhance livability and create more pedestrian/bike friendly environments.
Work of the HLP team also helped to improve the availability, marketing and promotion of healthy foods at three convenience stores in the area. The TSET HLP work in these areas will have a long-term and significant impact on thousands of Rogers County citizens.
“The second generation of TSET Healthy Living Program takes a comprehensive, community approach to health and looks for ways for targeted high-impact interventions,” said TSET Executive Director Julie Bisbee. “This initiative builds on years of success through multiple community-based programs funded by TSET. It places a laser focus on communities with the greatest need.”
The five-year grants, renewable annually, will support communities in developing strategies, programs and policies to improve health by preventing or reducing tobacco use, improving nutrition, and increasing physical activity in an effort to decrease premature death in Oklahoma. The program prioritizes work in communities where health risk factors – tobacco use, poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyle — are among the highest. Complete list of TSET HLP 2.0 awardees.
As the current five-year TSET grant award wraps up, two significant donations will enhance and address healthy food access for Rogers County citizens. Mercy Chefs Director of Disaster Relief, Lisa Saylor, accepted $2,600 fro
m the Rogers County TSET Healthy Living Program which will help to offset the cost of refrigerated trucks currently being utilized to transport fresh produce and dairy items to the Rogers County area for distribution to families.

L-R: Sarah Filipek, Jody Reiss, Lisa Saylor (Mercy Chefs), and Amber Brassfield
Talala Mayor Kandy Damron also recently accepted a $500 community garden sponsorship from the Rogers County TSET Healthy Living Program. Talala is in the process of revitalizing their park and the addition of a community garden will help provide healthy food access to the area. The Oologah-Talala FFA is stepping in to help as is the Talala wellness committee and Creekside nursery has agreed to provide plants at a discounted rate.
Pictured are Jody Reiss, TSET HLP 2.0 Project Coordinator (center), Sarah Filipek (left) and Amber Brassfield (right), Assistant Project Coordinator

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