The following is a press release submitted to SOURCE media for publication.
FRAMINGHAM – Two critical champions of community health will be honored for their work through the COVID-19 pandemic with the 2021 Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Awards at Polar Park in Worcester on October 7.
The annual event, hosted by Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (Kennedy Community Health), is sponsored this year by LabCorp, United Healthcare, Harvard Pilgrim, AAFCPAs, Promoting Good, LLC, Reliant Medical Group, Advocates, and Open Sky Community Services.
Congressman Jim McGovern and Ismael Rivera, Director of Prevention Services at JRI Health, of the Program RISE will be honored for their vital support of the Worcester, Framingham and Milford areas.
“Through the harrowing months of this pandemic and long before, Congressman McGovern and Ismael Rivera of the Program RISE have shown an unparalleled commitment to the health needs in our communities,” said Kennedy Community Health President and CEO Stephen J. Kerrigan. “We are truly grateful to have both as partners in providing accessible, equitable healthcare to our patients and residents of Central and MetroWest Massachusetts.”
The event is Thursday, October 7 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at Polar Park at the Hanover Deck in Worcester.
The event is free to attend, but advanced registration is required. Email RSVP@kennedychc.org to attend.
Ismael “Izzy” Rivera has dedicated his career to connecting those who need sexual health services in the MetroWest area with HIV, STI, and Viral Hepatitis prevention, testing, treatment, and education, with particular attention in reaching historically underserved and minority populations. Originally from Puerto Rico, Izzy grew up in the Worcester area, where he worked as a health educator at the Worcester Department of Public Health and for Kennedy Community Health, formally the Great Brook Valley Health Center. In this role, the scope of his responsibilities included designing community correction programs and services provided by the Health Center, one-on-one counseling and after care planning to people living with HIV/AIDS, and facilitating HIV, STIs and Viral Hepatitis courses for men and women at various correctional institutions.
For the last 11 years, Izzy has been working with the Justice Resource Institute (JRI) and Program RISE, a multi-service component of JRI Health, serving Framingham and surrounding towns in MetroWest. Program RISE offers STI preventative, counseling, and testing services for the public as well as case management and group support services for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
As Director of Prevention Services, Izzy supervises all HIV Client Services personnel, including evaluating performance, disciplining, hiring, training, and providing administrative supervision to all programs and serves as liaison with public and private funding sources and assure compliance with guidelines. In his time at JRI Health, Izzy has grown his staff from 4 to 34 employees, has established 20 HIV counseling and testing sites throughout Central and MetroWest area, launched a mobile health van in January 2021 to provide vaccines and services, and plans to launch Rise On–a mobile app which will improve access to substance use resources in the MetroWest area and reduce stigma to promote healthier and safer options.
Congressman James P. McGovern, who was born and raised in Worcester, has held the office of U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’ 2nd Congressional District since 1997, which includes Kennedy Community Health’s flagship Worcester health center site. In his 25 years serving in Congress, Congressman McGovern delivered millions of dollars for jobs, vital local and regional projects, small businesses, public safety, regional and mass transportation projects, and affordable housing throughout his district and Massachusetts. Congressman McGovern has been a strong advocate for Kennedy Community Health and continues to support legislation which furthers access to equitable healthcare for our local communities. Over the course of the pandemic, Congressman McGovern called attention to and led efforts to address the rise of food insecurity, including attending food distribution events hosted by Kennedy Community Health.