Neighborhood Wellness Center: 10 Years of Service

by Randi Van Wyk '09

Azusa Pacific's Neighborhood Wellness Center (NWC) recently celebrated its 10 year partnership providing wellness and prevention services to the Azusa community. The event attracted a large crowd including Azusa Mayor Joe Rocha, Azusa city council members, Canyon City Foundation board members, local Azusa pastors, and neighboring Azusa residents, as well as Aja Lesh, Ph.D., APU School of Nursing dean, and APU President Jon Wallace.

Julie Pusztai, director of the NWC, recognized previous NWC director and founder, Susan Smith, for actively implementing a vision for hope through collaboratively conducting initial community assessments with the support of the city, staff, and students.

In the midst of this emotional commemoration, Smith said, “The Neighborhood Wellness Center’s primary health prevention and care for the community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I am extremely proud of not only the faculty and staff involved, but the students who brought the program to life.”

Since 1998, the NWC has had more than 8,200 visits, including appointments and walk-ins. More than 1,800 residents have been screened through the Azusa outreach programs facilitated by the NWC. From health screening to diabetes prevention, to nutrition tips and more, APU student nursing majors and faculty provide practical wellness education and promote healthy living.

Due to recent grants from the Canyon City Foundation, both the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program (N2N), and the Azusa Walks Program have been added to the center’s offerings. N2N emphasizes diabetes and obesity prevention services at the center, schools, churches, and other community groups. Azusa Walks has influenced the physical activity levels of more than 150 residents who have received pedometers and 89 resident participants, including Azusa Major Joe Rocha.

Mayor Joe Rocha said, “It is no coincidence that several Azusa pastors are here today. We have to not only be physically fit, but also spiritually fit.” Mayor Rocha commended the work of the NWC and encouraged community involvement in seeking healthy living.