An assessment otherwise termed as a specific way of identifying problems, strengths, and needs of a community is a means used by community developers to make decisions and set objectives. A community assessment also facilitates alignment of priorities and makes it easier to identify which course of action to take. A community assessment or exercise is an undertaking that seeks to collect or rather gather information based on the existing or current concerns, strengths, and conditions of a community, families, and children in it (County Health Status Report, 2004). Since it is a shared vision, collaborative partnership, as well as a formed development, community assessment reviews local resources, assets, gaps, and barriers within the community (Alameda County Social Services Agency, 2005). Additionally, community assessment puts into consideration activities carried out by people residing in a community and attentively looks at any emerging needs of the community. This paper will seek to carry out an abbreviated community assessment on Alameda Island community by describing the core descriptors such as demographics, culture, history, values, and the physical environment of the community among others.
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Demographics and racial distribution
Alameda is a county in the state of California. It has 13 cities with a population of about 1.5 million. It covers an area of 739.02 square miles and as of 2010; the US Bureau of statistics documented that 2,043.6 persons occupied one square mile. I come from the Alameda Island community, which has a population of 72,259 (Schenker & Gentleman, 2002). According to the 2010 US Census Report, the households of this community are about 30,226 and 17,863 families, which reside in it (Reinert, Carver, & Range, 2005). The population density of Alameda Island is around 2,583.3/km2 and the housing units equal to 31,644. Generally, the report declared that this community is a residence to many different people with diverse racial backgrounds. The racial composition of the community records whites, African Americans, Native Americans, Asians at around 56.95%, 6.21%, 0.67%, and 26.15% respectively. Other races within this community make 6.13% of the total racial composition of Alameda Island (Hooker, Ciril, & Wicks, 2007).
Age and gender of residents
Out of the 30,226 households in this community, only 27.7% are children under the majority age (18 years) living in them with other family members. In this community, there are also married couples living together, female householders who are unmarried, and others people who do not have family relations (Reinert, Carver, & Range, 2005). A closer outlook into the community database shows that Alameda Island has its population spread out in different mainstreams (Alameda County Social Services Agency, 2005). People under the age of 18 are many with a percentage of 21.5 while people aged between 18 and 24 occupy 7.0%. People aged between 25 and 44 are the majority with a percentage of 33.6 while those aged 45 to 64 make a percentage of 24.6 (Schenker & Gentleman, 2002). The community has a considerable amount of old people since 13.3 is the percentage held by those with 65 years or more. 38 years is the median age of people in this community (County Health Status Report, 2004). The assessment shows that the number of women is slightly higher than that of men.
Physical setting of Alameda Island
The Island of Alameda lies in the North Western part of Alameda County. Centrally, it consists of the major original section wherein the former Naval Air Station lies at the western end of this community (Reinert, Carver, & Range, 2005). Along the south shore part of the Alameda Island, physical setting is the Bay Farm Island, which forms the mainland. Currently, residents know the former Naval Air Station as “Alameda Point” after transforming its name due to demographic alterations set forth by the naval demarcation. A lagoon separates the Alameda Island community from the south shore area (Hooker, Ciril, & Wicks, 2007). Physical demographics and statistical survey indicate that the South shore and the Alameda Point exist on an artificial fill (Schenker & Gentleman, 2002)
Culture and values
After looking at the racial makeup of this community, it is understandable that their cultural beliefs are many. Culture defines a set of beliefs learnt, traditions exercised, and guides or principles carried out by people for either collective or individual behaviors shared amongst members of a particular group (Reinert, Carver, & Range, 2005). In this community, people celebrate various festivals every year (Hooker, Ciril, & Wicks, 2007). For instance, according to the Alameda Arts Council, “Art in the Park” is a cultural event celebrated annually featuring more than 100 local artists. It has areas sub-divided into children’s activity area and music section. It takes place at the Encinal and Park Avenue otherwise known as the Jackson Park. In addition, those willing to attend the “Art in the Park” event do not pay any amount and are held late during summer with poet readings, food, and art demonstrations (Alameda County Social Services Agency, 2005). Residents value the aspect of honor and gathering as an event such as “shining stars in the arts” seek to bring people together and awarding those with an outstanding contribution towards the development of this community (Schenker & Gentleman, 2002).
Economics and healthcare availability
The community of Alameda Island depends highly on its Alameda Point, theaters, and spirit and wine production firms. The adjacent authorization of a bond measure that led to the construction of a new library replacing the Carnegie library damaged by the Lorna Prieta earthquake indicates the economic development of this community. As of today, Alameda Island collects revenue from its community owned library (Hooker, Ciril, & Wicks, 2007). Furthermore, Naval Air Station is now a civilian development project after decommissioning. The US Veterans Administration made a proposal to construct a modern facility amounting to $209 million in September 2010 at the Alameda Point. Generally, this facility would offer services such as rehabilitation to drug abuse and other addictions, mental health services, primary, and specialty care (County Health Status Report, 2004). There are also theaters and a number of wine and spirit producing cellars such as the Rock Wall Winery and Rosenblum Cellars Winery. This community relies heavily on Alameda County Medical Center, which has its premises in Oakland and opens typically for long hours (Reinert, Carver, & Range, 2005).
Community health problems
This community experiences bits of health related problems. For example, the number of healthcare facilities is limited. The Alameda County Medical Center serves quite a huge population from 13 different cities within the Alameda County (Reinert, Carver, & Range, 2005). Demographic observations reveal that over 700 children start their lives in poverty every year. Moreover, with reference to the scientific consensus of 2010, most adult diseases are rampant in adverse conditions, which involve experiences at the time of pregnancy (Healthy People, 2003). Stressors over the course of life are yet another factor contributing to cumulative impacts early life health complications. Extensive array of evidence links early life experiences and intrauterine with a variety of health impairments which include chronic pulmonary disease, obesity, mental health problems, drug abuse, cancer, depression, alcoholism, and cardiovascular risk factors. Risk behaviors such as alcoholism, drug and other substance abuse, depression, and cardiovascular risk factors form the largest proportion of hazardous behaviors among residents of this community (Hooker, Ciril, & Wicks, 2007).
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Socioeconomic characteristics and problems
Immense outlook into the US County Quick Facts shows that unfair disadvantage is evident in Alameda Island. Documented evidence maintains that reducing the factors of disadvantage in early life can act as cognitive element towards minimizing disparities and other chronic conditions amongst people (County Health Status Report, 2004). In this community, structural conditions have aided in concentrating resources and paramount opportunities for health and job vacancies in certain areas. Health indicators such as infant mortality, morbidity, and weight of newborn babies indicate that socioeconomic characteristics of the races making Alameda Island differ (Schenker & Gentleman, 2002). Both morbidity and mortality statistics indicate that babies born out of white families weigh heavier compared to babies born out of African American family (Hooker, Ciril, & Wicks, 2007). This report shows disparity in health conditions of whites and blacks residing in Alameda Island. Facts show that black children face adverse health circumstances that mount over the course of their lives (Alameda County Social Services Agency, 2005). Apart from the problem of health inequality, the community of Alameda Island faces other chronic conditions such as drug abuse, alcoholism, and depression among the old and the young.
Analysis of the problems
Statistical study shows that lack of adequate healthcare facilities contributes to high mortality rate among residents. As indicated earlier, the Alameda County Medical Center serves a large number of people from 13 different cities. Indeed, this kind of workload is by itself a factor affecting provision of health services to residents of Alameda Island (Healthy People, 2003). A Life Course Perspective is an initiative organized by the Building Blocks Collaboration which by the end of its role found out that presence or rather availability of abusive drugs in addition to inadequate income generating activities among the young generation are the number one factors facilitating drug and substance abuse. The symposium indicated that low income and other related factors contributed to problems of depression (County Health Status Report, 2004).
Tangible observations reveal that the community of Alameda Island is indeed safe as it records minimal cases of insecurity per annum. Furthermore, the community has a traversed transportation network whereby vehicles access this community through three bridges namely High Street, Part Street, and Fruitvale Avenue bridges (Hooker, Ciril, & Wicks, 2007). It also has two one-way pathways that bridge Alameda Island with Oakland’s Chinatown. Putting in place initiatives that can help reduce health inequality among residents and imposing heavy fines and long-term imprisonment to those found guilty of dealing, trafficking, or using drugs can facilitate or help solve the problems (Healthy People, 2003). Organizations such as Unicef and NACADA can intervene and help solve the problems as the former can assist reduce health disparity while the latter can eradicate drug abuse (Alameda County Social Services Agency, 2005). The community appears motivated to resolve its problems as it has worked tirelessly to vote in favor of constructing a community library. Additionally, the civilians helped change NAS to Alameda Point is a clear indication of the community’s zeal to solve unemployment and poverty related problems.
Alameda County Social Services Agency. (2005). Quality of Life Benchmarks Report 2005. Web.
County Health Status Report. (2004). Alameda County Public Health Department Community Assessment, Planning and Education Unit. Web.
Healthy People. (2003). National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 91-50212. Government Printing Press: Washington, DC.
Hooker, S. P., Ciril, L. A., & Wicks, L. (2007). Walkable Neighborhoods for Seniors: The Alameda County Experience. Journal of Applied Gerontology 26, (4) pp. 157-9.
Reinert, B., Carver, V., & Range, L. M. (2005). Evaluating community tobacco use prevention coalitions. Evaluation and Program Planning, 28(2), pp. 201-208.
Schenker, N., & Gentleman, J. F. (2002). On Judging the Significance of Differences by Examining the Overlap Between Confidence Intervals. The American Statistician, 55(3), pp. 182-6.