Roots Community Health Center was founded in 2008 to address troubling health issues in East Oakland. The vision of Roots was to become a community health center serving area residents who need it most. It began as a residence-based program, targeting members of our community with the greatest need.
Namely, Roots sought to impact care for men in our community who lacked health care coverage or access. This is because traditionally, supportive services are more readily available to women in society, leaving men out. Roots focused its efforts primarily on men reentering society from prison, men with substance abuse and mental health issues, and young fathers without a traditional support system.
Our medical team provided care to these men on-site at various re-entry programs, substance abuse facilities, and fatherhood programs. Not only were medical services provided at the time and place of need, but patients were signed up for programs and services to benefit them as well. By providing medical care on-site, appointments were convenient and accessible. Many emergency room visits were avoided, and patients were able to attend their programs, training, classes, and jobs without interruption.
This initiative, later named Fit4Work, is based on the belief that health is a prerequisite for sustainable employment and entrepreneurship; and that stable income is a contributor to good health. Roots has since developed initiatives that aim to increase job readiness, employability, job retention, and less reliance on “the system.”