DOI / VISTA Team Projects

United General Hospital’s Community Health Outreach Program (CHOP)

DOI / VISTA: Mitchell Metcalf
Supervisor: Carol Hawk
Address: 2241 Hospital Drive, Sedro-Woolley, Washington 98284
County: Skagit County
Voice Telephone: 360-856-7383
Web site:
Congressional District: 1
Bureau: National Park Service (NPS)


The mission of CHOP is to “to optimize the health and well-being of all Skagit County residents by building collaborative partnerships that create health promotion programs, resources and strategies based on identified health needs.” To this end, CHOP partners with the National Park Service to connect residents of gateway communities to opportunities in the North Cascades National Park and identify and provide pathways into the Park for local youth. The DOI/VISTA will specifically address issues of poverty and food access in the North Cascades National Park gateway community of Concrete, WA.

The DOI/VISTA project site United General Hospital is sponsored by the National Park Service (NPS) whose mission is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

About the Surrounding Community

The pilot site for CHOP’s Healthy Community and Schools Initiative is Concrete, WA, a small working-class community in the geographically isolated foothills of the North Cascades in Eastern Skagit County. Originally settled by Appalachian immigrants who came to work in logging, mining, and fishing, Concrete’s residents maintain community norms of stubborn self-reliance and libertarianism that can complicate much-needed community and public health improvement efforts. Statistically, Concrete residents (especially children) show a number of alarming health indicators. The levels of severe poverty in Concrete are extreme, with 30% of households living on less than $20,000 per year. 19% of the population 25 years and over in Concrete is unemployed. Poverty is the common denominator for poor health indicators, which is reflected in 2013 Department of Social and Health Services Community Reports. In 2011, the high school dropout rate reached an astounding 35%, double the state average, compared to 20% in S.C. and 17% in WA. 

Project Overview

While working with CHOP’s (Community Health Outreach Programs) Healthy Community and Schools Initiative, DOI/VISTA Rachel Sacco is implementing several strategies to move individuals and families out of poverty. First, she is assisting with the coordination and leadership of Concrete School District’s Farm to School program, establishing systems to source local food for the cafeteria, coordinating classroom nutrition education, and planning for a school garden. Second, Rachel is increasing outreach and enrolling eligible community members in Federal Nutrition Assistance Programs to enhance food security, as well as establishing EBT access at local farmers markets to increase access to fresh produce for low-income individuals. Finally, the VISTA is connecting youth and young adults to opportunities and developing partnerships with the local food industry and public land agencies to increase access to volunteer, internship, and employment opportunities. These efforts will provide outreach, education, and economic development throughout the North Cascades National Park gateway community of Concrete.

Sponsors and Partners

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