A new community group planning to serve Panola and Shelby County residents is seeking to change and improve health outcomes for local residents.

Their first goal is to implement a diabetes education and management program — and eventually the group wants to address issues like mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, and fitness through a grant-funded community health clinic. They also want to serve as a resource directory for those in need.

“I just really want something more to be done,” Co-Organizer Kitty Howard said.

Initial planning meetings have included representatives from UT Health, the U.S. Farm Bureau, local churches and the Sammy Brown Library, but they’re seeking more community engagement.

The group’s next meeting is set for Thursday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Panola County Chamber of Commerce, 300 W. Panola St. in Carthage. Everyone is invited to attend.

The group was working Thursday night to identify ways they could kick-start programs.

They plan to partner with health care education programs and use available grants to bring health care services to those who could not otherwise afford them.

In the immediate future, the group is working on a community health needs survey, which will be posted online.

They’re also seeking volunteers who can help them bring the diabetes program to fruition by the start of next year.

“We will need lifestyle coaches, so people in the community who are willing to kind of basically be cheerleaders,” Co-Organizer Dr. Andrea Oliver, family practitioner, said. “We will need donations of facilities. People who are willing to donate a fellowship hall or a center where we can actually hold different events.”

Reporter

Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.