Community Luncheon for Pacific Islander Community Held in March

April 12, 2023

On Sunday, March 19 Cass County Public Health hosted a luncheon for Atlantic’s local Pacific Islander population. More than 125 members of this community attended.

“We organized this event because we want to make sure we are connecting this community to the right people and services available here. Our goal at Public Health is to assist in creating communities that are healthy and thriving, and that means part of what we do is directly address health inequities in our local population,” said Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen.

Since the event, multiple community partners have seen an increase in the number of Pacific Islanders accessing their services.

“By creating the time and space for this back-and-forth dialogue, we’re now seeing the positive impacts. We’re seeing more people aware of preventive health services. It’s certainly helped that we were able to connect faces and names to these organizations that are excited to welcome and assist these families,” said Olsen.

Jack Soram, Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of the Federated States of Micronesia, attended and spoke to the audience throughout the afternoon. Deputy Chief Soram remarked, “Since I began working with the Embassy five years ago, this is the first time that I have ever seen offer any type of town hall event for our community.”

Cass Health presentations were given by Public Health, Dr. Marcela Pineda, Mary Robinson, PA-C, and Care Coordinator Tiara Zemanek. Additionally, Atlantic Community School District Superintendent Steve Barber, Mayor Grace Garrett, Police Chief Devin Hogue, Sheriff Darby McLaren, and others spoke at the luncheon including representatives from Iowa Total Care, West Central Community Action, Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce, SWITA, Family Inc., Zion Recovery Services, Legal Aid Iowa, Atlantic Public Library, Alzheimer’s Association, Cass County Extension, and the Nishna Valley Family YMCA.

Following the luncheon, members of the Pacific Islander community performed a traditional song and dance for all attendees, and then concluded with a church service.