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Prize Awarded to 2 Regional Organizations for Improving Healthcare

Veronica Volk

Two regional organizations have been recognized for their work in improving access to health care.

The Howard Berman Prize is named after the former CEO of the Lifetime Healthcare Companies, the parent company of Excellus. The award is given to grassroots organizations that work with at-risk populations to improve healthcare and quality of life.

This year, for the first time in their twelve year history, the committee chose two recipients of the prize: The Partnership for Ontario County in Canandaigua, and Gerard Place out of Buffalo.

The Partnership for Ontario County in Canandaigua is an organization that oversees several community services, including drug dependency and mental health programs. CEO Bonnie Ross says they look for ways to help youth and families.

"When you're doing that, you need money to develop grants, you need money for infrastructure, that includes your technology, your human resources, and everything that keeps an office running."

Ross says the $10,000 prize will help fund those administrative costs.

David Zapfel is the CEO of Gerard Place. He says they intend to use their prize money to increase access to healthy food for those they serve.

"Every month we have 200 people line up in our parking lot, and they line up to receive free, healthy food so they can get through the end of the month."

Zapfel says their location in East Buffalo is considered a food desert, and they will be looking to expand programs like their farmers market and cooking classes.

Besides the cash prize, the winners also receive a sculpture designed by Rochester-based artist Leonard Urso.

Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.