Colleen Lennon

655

Executive Director at AAHAA

Position tenure: 6.5 years 

Opened Midwest Division of Kazuri Jewelry an NGO supporting women in Kenya, East Africa. 

President of the Keystone Foundation – Programs and services supporting people with developmental disabilities. 

Director of Development at St. Joseph’s Carondelet Child Center in Englewood — worked to provide the tools and resources to the most abused children in the system to help them live happier, healthier lives. 

Tell us about AAHAA
AAHAA grew out of a need to help people struggling to connect to healthcare. In September 2011, a meeting was held as part of a Healthcare Needs Assessment at the request of the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County. In attendance were representatives of HFNLC and the community, including individuals from local and county government, schools, fire and rescue services, the local food pantry, faith-based organizations, and residents. The Antioch Area Healthcare Accessibility Alliance (AAHAA) was created as a result of that meeting with the goal of addressing and resolving the access issues faced by the residents of Antioch. The organization is focused on how to collaborate with local and county partners to meet the immediate and ongoing healthcare needs of the uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved residents. 

What are AAHAA’s programs/activities?
We focus on the underserved populations of the elderly, veterans, chronically ill and youth, but we will help anyone experiencing an issue accessing healthcare. We plan to increace access of residents to broader Lake County resources by providing referrals and connecting them to partner organizations. 

Our Network Nurse Program consists of direct one-on-one visits with our clients, either in-person or via the phone. This helps to improve residents’ opportunities to interact with a nurse who can address their healthcare, social service, mental health and transportation needs. We offer community outreach programs like our “Talk to a Nurse Series” in low-income and senior buildings that provide residents a 15-minute meeting with a nurse to discuss health concerns. After the meeting, we schedule follow-up appointments to offer more help. We also provide Certified Application Specialists to assist individuals with enrolling for insurance through the ACA (Affordable Care Act), Medicaid, SNAP, Medicare Savings Plan and other resources based on their individual eligibility. Our Health Literacy Series sponsors educational activities where Antioch residents can learn about healthcare topics. Our transportation program improves residents’ opportunities to access transportation services to get them to and from healthcare appointments.

How does AAHAA impact the community?
AAHAA creates a healthier community by helping all our residents find and connect to the resources they need for better health.

What’s your favorite AAHAA memory?
When we were struggling financially and our board of directors came to the rescue and pulled together a phenomenal event to raise the funds we needed.  

Where do you see AAHAA going in the future?
Expanding our reach to help even more people find the resources they need to live healthier lives. 

It might surprise you to know… 
I have panned for gold in Telluride, Colorado. I was a volunteer Ambassador for the Association of Nonprofit Executives who travelled to South Africa to work with NGO’s in Cape Town and Johannesburg. I have camped in the desert to watch a meteor shower.  And I love storytelling festivals. 

Favorite memory about the community?
The way everyone came together during the COVID-19 pandemic to help one another. 

Greatest lesson you’ve learned?
Most people want to do good things in life — some just need a little more direction than others.