Men of Color Health Awareness (MOCHA) receives UMass Amherst Community Partner Award

From left to right: Lamont Scott, Mitch Mullen, Dean Marjorie Aelion,
Professor David Bucahan, Henry “Hank” Douglas, Jr., and Al Hubert.

September 25, 2018

The University of Massachusetts Amherst held its annual Community Breakfast on August 28 at the Student Union Ballroom. Jointly sponsored by the university and the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, the breakfast offers a chance for community and campus leaders to meet newcomers, renew friendships and talk about plans for the year ahead.

During the breakfast, John McCarthy, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, presented the inaugural Community Partner Award to a Springfield organization, the Men of Color Health Awareness (MOCHA). Lamont Scott, director of MOCHA, was presented with the award in recognition of the non-profit organization’s role in educating men of color in improving physical and mental health, and its partnerships with the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“MOCHA has facilitated the university’s ability to successfully partner with Springfield communities on a wide range of research projects,” McCarthy said.

Among those partnerships are several collaborations with the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, the Office of Public Health Practice and Outreach, the Center for Community Health Equity Research, and with individual faculty. Community Health Education Assistant Professor Louis Graham and Professor David Buchanan, and MOCHA received a $2.3 million, 5-year community-based participatory research (CBPR) award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH study, "MOCHA Moving Forward: a CBPR Investigation of Chronic Disease Prevention in Older, Low-Income African-American Men," now entering its third year, seeks to enhance MOCHA’s already successful support of African-American men’s health and skills for coping with stress, as well as collect data on MOCHA’s methods that might help the project to become a national model.

“When communities and universities work together collaboratively, using community-based participatory research approaches, positive change happens,” said Marjorie Aelion, Dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. “It was wonderful to see MOCHA recognized for its role in partnering with the university. Its members are highly deserving of the Community Partner Award.”

Nearly 300 people attended the breakfast, including state representatives Solomon Goldstein-Rose and John Scibak, Amherst town officials, campus administration, and faculty and students. Additional speakers at the community breakfast included UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy; Peter Vickery, president of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce; and UMass Amherst student Emily Ishak.