While our Company’s Mission is to empower our members to achieve their best health, we also take tremendous pride in being a leader in addressing the health of the communities we serve. Through our philanthropic work, we strive to be a trusted partner to many of the great organizations throughout New Jersey that are addressing the state’s most pressing health issues and helping those most in need.
Knocking Out Opioid Abuse
In 2019, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, together with The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ), continued its support of Knock Out Opioid Abuse (KOOA), an initiative that addresses the opioid epidemic through community outreach, prescriber and parent education, and a statewide awareness campaign.
The multi-year KOOA initiative has sponsored a series of town halls throughout the state to reduce stigma and raise community awareness of the epidemic. The feedback on these town halls has been overwhelmingly positive. According to the evaluation conducted by Rutgers University regarding the program’s impact, hundreds of town hall participants are more informed, and are more likely to share lessons learned, talk with children and young adults about the risks of opioid addiction, and safely dispose of opioid medications stored at home.
Knock Out Opioid Abuse
The first KOOA town hall, held in March 2019 at the Newark Museum of Art, served as a summit that looked at the state and federal responses to the epidemic. However, one of the most memorable KOOA events was held at Rutgers University and focused on student athletes. After several speakers shared impassioned stories of their addiction and recovery or of family members struggling with addiction, Rutgers student-athletes pledged to do their part to knock out opioid abuse.
Knock Out Opioid Abuse
Engaging the Audience
Believing that open communication is essential in the fight against the opioid epidemic, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey continued its support of Anytown, a touring musical developed by the George Street Playhouse. Anytown explores the opioid impact on students and families in a way that is easily understood by its intended audience of students in grades seven through 12.
Empowering the Provider Community
To help educate health professionals authorized to prescribe in New Jersey, Horizon BCBSNJ and the PDFNJ launched a one-hour education webinar entitled Do No Harm: Exploring Strategies for Safer Prescribing of Opioids, which provides information vital to promoting safer prescribing practices to keep patients safe from opioid misuse and addiction. According to the PDFNJ, since its launch in May, more than 200 health care professionals, caring for an estimated 220,000 patients, have completed the course (based on self-reported information from participating medical professionals).
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey also continued its support of Healthy U, an initiative that helps prevent childhood obesity in New Jersey by encouraging physical activity, nutrition education and family involvement, in addition to more than 20 other programs.
Helping organizations like the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance put children and families first is a priority. By educating children on healthy living habits, Horizon BCBSNJ and its partners work to reduce the incidence of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. These conditions have a tremendous impact on a person’s quality of life and contribute to rising health care costs. By focusing on prevention, Horizon BCBSNJ is working to turn the tide on the obesity epidemic.
The Horizon Foundation’s grants also served many other vulnerable populations in 2019. To reach more children in need, funding was doubled for dental care and education programs through our Kids’ Oral Health Program. And, to serve New Jersey’s largest minority group, a new grant supported the Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey’s community health navigation program, Pathways to Health.
Overall, The Horizon Foundation made 71 grants in 2019, totaling more than $2.5 million, and has now made 1,564 grants since its inception in 2004, totaling more than $59.1 million.
Horizon BCBSNJ employees are committed to their communities. Through participation in our Horizon Cares program, 587 employees volunteered more than 6,300 hours to non-profit organizations throughout the state in 2019, with 18 employee volunteers nominated and recognized by their peers for their efforts through a new Outstanding Volunteer Recognition Program.
Volunteer Recognition Luncheon
Horizon BCBSNJ is the statewide sponsor of the American Cancer Society. Through our involvement, employees participated in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks, the George Washington Bridge Challenge, the Relay for Life, a day of remembrance and celebration, and more.
Horizon BCBSNJ and its employees also supported select nonprofit organizations in New Jersey, such as the Greater Newark Conservancy and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey through our Days of Caring program.
Day of Caring
And, Horizon BCBSNJ employees took advantage of the Matching Gifts Program, with the Company matching a record $582,000 in gifts to eligible non-profit organizations in 2019.