By Jesse Crouch, Garden & Wellness Coordinator

Community Garden Updates

We enjoyed the benefits of many 70+ degree days in February, sending the Alliance Community Garden into bloom!  We're a little weirded out, but the warmer temperatures haven't set back our radish, lettuce, and pea sprouts that are making their way into the world.  We're also celebrating the fact that our strawberry transplants are healthy and adjusting well to the garden! The deer seem to like to stroll through out strawberry and pea beds but we're just grateful they aren't grabbing a snack as well.

We do hope Father Winter didn't completely check out so that our spring crops like lettuce, arugula, and spinach don't just all go straight to seed. But if that happens, more tomatoes and squash!

1: Radish seedlings. 2. Pea sprouts and trellis. 3. Pea spouts. 4. Deer hoof prints in strawberry bed.


Good lookin' and cookin'

It's been a very busy month in the Wellness department! Cooking Matters has been a blast with our new students and we hosted our kickoff dinner for the Million Step Challenge Program.

Cooking Matters has been a hit with our new passionate students! It's been exciting learning more about nutrition facts, the importance fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, how much protein you need, what foods have to most protein! And all over amazing recipes like Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers, Veggie Fajitas, Sweet Potato Curry, and 3 bean Veggie Chili. We're excited for the remaining two weeks of the course.

The Million Step Challenge kickoff went off without a hitch! Seven Alliance Medical Ministry staff, five WakeMed staff, three N.C. State University Park Scholars, and five volunteers came together for a delicious meal and to enroll 31 Alliance patients in the Million Step Walking challenge!  

The Million Step Challenge officially begins on March 1, with the goal of achieving a million steps within 120 days.  Alliance will kick-off its Walk with a Doc program on Saturday, March 4 from 10-11 to enable our patient participants to "get their steps in".  Thanks to WakeMed for providing FitBits to all participants!  

We're excited to post updates as our physicians and their awesome teams of patients challenge other clinics and community groups over the next four months. Stay tuned!

Zumba is on the horizon at Alliance!  We're so grateful to have found a volunteer instructor to deliver a six-week course to our patients.  Zumba comes on the heels of a success SalsaFit program offered in Summer 2016.  

We're so very blessed, excited, and hopeful in 2017.  Each day, Alliance staff serves a community of the strongest and most wonderful people I've ever met. Thanks for your support and for reading this blog. Check us out in March. Things will be wilder yet! (also like us on facebook)

Stay groovy, Jesse Crouch, AmeriCorps Garden and Wellness Coordinator

AuthorDavid Crittenden

We're only a few weeks into 2017 but the new year is already bringing us hope and excitement, and we are looking forward to making this year a wonderful one! We'll be introducing bees, a hoop house, and more perennials, including asparagus, blueberries, strawberries, figs, and pears!

With carefully coordinated wellness outcome tracking, we will be able to hone in on patient impact of new programs like the Million Step Challenge and the Diabetes Prevention Program.  We look forward to expanding our offerings of Seed to Supper and Cooking Matters, and continuing yoga, a patient favorite.  Follow all the happenings each month through this blog!

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". - Lao Tzu

Garden Flourishes Despite Wild Temps

Despite the early January snow that blanketed the Alliance Community Garden and the single-digit temperatures, our spinach, arugula, kale, carrot and beets survived, insulated from the single digit temperature by the snow and their row covers.  We even had a few special four-legged visitors to the garden during those snowy days!

In the wake of the snow storm, we're excited for our new plantings!  The Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church's Community Garden donated strawberry bush seedlings, which we have transplanted in the back of the garden.  After a successful germination test, snap pea seeds are in the ground; in a few months, they'll be covering our bamboo trelis.  We'll be excited to see the "fruits of our labor" in a few months!


Wellness in the Works

Weekly yoga and diabetes education continued in January, and we are gearing up for exciting spring initiatives, including the launch of the Million Step Challenge and kick-off of the Diabetes Prevention Program. 

Alliance Medical Ministry is excited to participate this Spring in the Million Step Challenge with WakeMed Hospital!  The Million Step Challenge begins on March 1st, with Alliance medical providers each leading a team of ten patients to reach one million steps by June 15.  Each day, patients and providers will aim to reach 9,000 steps to achieve this goal!  Alliance will offer a weekly "Walk with a Doc" to help our teams achieve their goals, and encourage community members to jump in and offer support.  Alliance competes with teams from WakeMed Hospital, Advance Community Health, and the Open Door Clinic.  The team with the most steps at the conclusion of the challenge WINS!  We're excited to be more involved in our patients' exercise routines and to see what we can accomplish together through the challenge!

February will also kick off our new Diabetes Prevention Program in partnership with the YMCA, led by former Garden and Wellness Coordinator, Ashley Toscano.  In this 12-month program, pre-diabetic Spanish-speaking patients will work to achieve the goals of losing 7% of their body fat and exercising 150 minutes each week.  For a portion of the program, patient participants receive YMCA gym memberships and are encouraged to exercise with friends and classmates.  We'll check in on their progress over the course of the year!

Cooking Matters kicks off the winter six-week program this week, teaching nutrition to participating patients as well as skills to cook, meal plan, and shop for healthy food items on a budget.  Be sure to follow weekly updates and recipes on the Alliance Facebook Page: 

Peace be with you fellow travelers! 

AuthorDavid Crittenden


Late Fall Garden Updates

Pounds of produce harvested this year to date: 2,170!

It's been an interesting Fall in the Garden! Unusually warm temperatures have kept our plants growing late into the season. The frost has come, but many brave veggie endured the nights in the low 20s, including our spinach, kale, turnips, and arugula, providing essential nutrients to our patients.

Thank you to our late Fall garden volunteers:

Church on Morgan

Crosspointe Men's Group

Edenton Street United Methodist Church

With their help we've installed our new irrigation system, planted fall vegetables, and prepared the garden for the Winter months.

New Pollinator Garden Installed

Boy Scout Griffin Bensen led fellow scouts in his Eagle Scout project -- designing and installing a pollinator garden!  Among the pollinator plants found in our new garden are climbing aster, purple coneflower, St. John's Wort, and Butterfly weed.  These plants will help attract bees and local pollinating insects to our garden.

Exciting plans for 2017!

While the garden is resting this winter, we are gearing up to plant more blueberry bushes, a small strawberry patch, and asparagus in the garden come Spring.  

We are excited to announce that we are bringing BEES to the Alliance Garden! Alice Hinman, founder of Apiopolis, is providing support to bring two bee colonies to the Alliance Community Garden in April! 

Late Fall Wellness News

Chair Yoga

Yoga continues to be a great and popular program for patients and is held every Thursday evening in the clinic. Instructor Elise from "You Call this Yoga" incorporates mind, body, and spirit into her classes, giving patients stress relief, and an increased sense of value. The class is offered in English and Spanish.

Cooking Matters

We had a great Fall Cooking Matters Course, graduating eight students! These patients now have increased knowledge and abilities to use food as medicine for themselves, not to mention a new great group of friends. Big thanks to all of our volunteers that made the course possible! Our next course will begin January 23rd, 2017.

One of our favorite recipes was brought to us by volunteer Lori who led the class in making chickpea stuffed sweet potatoes and fruit smoothies. Here are the recipes for you to try at home:

Mediterranean Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Hummus Sauce

Vegan, Gluten-Free



4 large sweet potatoes, washed, ends trimmed, and then slightly halved

1 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

A drizzle of olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt and pepper, to taste


1/2 cup hummus

1/2 of a lemon, juiced

3 garlic cloves, minced

Fresh or dried parsley, for topping


1.      Preheat the oven to 400°F and line your baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Rub each of the potato halves with a bit of olive oil. Place each potato, cut side down on your baking sheet trying to keep them to one side.

2.      In a separate bowl, add your chickpeas, a drizzle of olive oil, and spices. Mix to coat. Then, pour them out on the baking sheet (opposite the potatoes) and place in the oven. Roast until the potatoes are cooked completely through and the chickpeas are crunchy. Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes to cool.

3.      While the sweet potato is cooling, mix the sauce together until thinned out and able to pour.

4.      Taking the back of a spoon, press down the centers a bit of each potato. Place on a serving platter and then add the chickpeas. Drizzle the sauce on top of each potato and serve.


Simple Green Smoothie


2-3 cups leafy green of choice (kale, spinach, arugula, mustard, turnip greens, radish greens etc.)

3-4 cups fruit (bananas, berries, oranges, apples, mango etc.)

1 cup water (add more or less to determine thickness)


Add ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Exciting Wellness Plans for 2017!

Walk With a Doc and the Million Step Challenge

Winter weather and early sunsets have Walk with a Doc on hold until our next meeting on February 23rd at 5:15pm.  Join us for a snack and good company on this 1.3 mile walk around the block, open to patients and community members!

This March, Alliance is excited to participate in the Million Step Challenge with WakeMed and other healthcare organizations! Thirty Alliance patients will participate to make up three teams of ten patients.  Each team will be led by one of our providers, Dr. Sheryl Joyner, Dr. Maggie Burkhead and Nurse Practitioner Laura Wasserman.  Each patient participant will receive a FitBit, with the goal of walking 10,000 steps each day to meet the Million Step Challenge!  Stay tuned in the New Year to find out more about the kick-off!


We're excited to be hosting our first zumba class on December 19th from 7:45-8:45pm.  The class will be low impact and appropriate for all fitness levels. No dancing experience or rhythm required!

Any zumba instructors interested in becoming involved at Alliance can contact the Wellness Coordinator at or 919-250-3320 x 436.

AuthorDavid Crittenden

Garden Report

We have harvested over 2,000 pounds of produce this year! 

Thank you to the volunteer groups who supported our garden in September:

9/11 Service Day with Franklin Academy Middle School

In partnership with ActivateGood, Alliance hosted a 9/11 service day on Friday, September 9th. We are so grateful to have been able to work with such a terrific group!  Thirteen volunteers assisted with garden tasks; we weeded, pulled up old crops, harvested, prepared raised beds for new crops, and re-mulched the pathways of the garden.

Garden Workday Volunteers

Thank you to those individual volunteers, as well as the youth groups, churches and businesses who have volunteered in our garden!  In September, we had the pleasure of working with Franklin Academy Middle School students and RSM.  Thank you for helping us clean out our summer garden and prepare the beds for fall vegetables! 

Our fall and winter garden is underway! Here's what we've been planting:  Carrots, radishes, turnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi, kale, collards, lettuce varieties, spinach, mini broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, as well as red and green cabbage!

Thanks to funding from the City of Oaks Foundation (Urban Agriculture award), we have extended the water line in our garden. Our next step in irrigation is to install a drip hose system. We hope for this to be completed by the end of October.

Plans for a pollinator garden are in the works, as well! Our hope is that this garden will bring even more beauty and environmental education to Alliance's community garden.


Wellness Program Report

Cooking Matters

Cooking Matters is a cooking and nutrition course that helps families plan, shop, and cook healthy, nutritious, affordable, and delicious meals.  Alliance Medical Ministry is a site for this free, six-week program, coordinated with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

At the first Cooking Matters course, Alliance patients learned about cooking and food safety, cooking terminology, how to read food labels, and how food portions have changed over the years.

Patients prepared a Coconut Corn and Kale Chowder soup with a side of some homemade whole wheat oat and millet bread.   We hope you will enjoy the recipe!

Coconut Corn & Kale Chowder

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes approximately 6 servings


1 medium whole leek, cleaned and chopped (or substitute with onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced (more to taste)
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
4 small red potatoes, cleaned and thinly sliced (you can use other types of potato, too)
1  15-ounce can of low-sodium chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or other bean of choice (navy or great northern work well), rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 14-ounces can lite coconut milk
1 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste
½ tsp. salt (or try no salt)

*This recipe is very flexible with substituting and adding vegetables. Add some leafy greens (like kale) to add some flavor and even more nutrients!


1.        In a large soup pot, sauté leeks, garlic, jalapeño, and potatoes in ½ cup vegetable broth over
         medium-high heat until vegetables are tender.

2.        Add chickpeas or desired type of bean, corn, coconut milk, and remaining vegetable broth.

3.        Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender and soup has thickened.

4.        Serve hot.

At the second Cooking Matters class, participants learned about the similarities and differences between fresh, canned, and frozen fruits and vegetables. They also discussed shopping for seasonal produce, learning how to make easy substitutions in recipes, and the importance of choosing whole grains.

The cooking portion included preparing a dish that incorporates fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This has definitely been the best recipe yet! Our pineapple quinoa stir-fry included carrots, celery, bok choy, green onions, hot and sweet peppers, peas, peanuts, quinoa, garlic, basil, and ginger. Check out the recipe below! Please note that this recipe is very versatile. You can easily add or substitute ingredients.

Pineapple Quinoa Stir-fry

Makes approximately 4-5 servings



1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained
1 cup pineapple juice (to reduce sugar intake, water or low-sodium vegetable broth can be used)
1 cup cold water
1/3 tsp soy sauce (low-sodium)

4 ounces cashews or peanuts, raw and unsalted
3 TBSP peanut oil (to make this oil-free, substitute it with water or vegetable broth)
2 scallions, sliced thinly (regular onions are a great substitution)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or more to taste)
1 hot red pepper, sliced into very thin rounds (optional)
½- inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup frozen green peas or cooked edamame
½ cup fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced into thin shreds
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh mint
10 ounces fresh pineapple, cut into bite-size chunks (about 2 cups)
3 TBSP vegetable stock (low-sodium)
3 TBSP soy sauce (optional)
1 TBSP mirin (optional: this can be left out)
Lime wedges for garnish


1.       Combine the quinoa, juice, water, and soy sauce (optional) in a medium-size pot.

2.       Cover, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.

3.       Stir a few times, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook from 12 to 14 minutes until all
         the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa appears pumped and slightly translucent.

4.       Uncover, fluff, and let cool.

5.       For best results, place the quinoa in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. If you’re in a
        hurry, chill the covered quinoa for at least an hour. When ready to use, break up any chunks of the
        cold quinoa with a fork. (Optional: you can use the quinoa right away & the result is still great!)


1.       Use the largest nonstick skillet you have (at least 11 inches in diameter) or a wok.

2.       Have all of your ingredients chopped and easily within reach.

3.       Place the cashews or peanuts in the dry pan and heat over low heat, stirring them, until lightly
        toasted, 4 to 5 minutes.

4.       Remove the cashews or peanut from the pan, raise the heat to medium, and add the peanut oil,
        scallions, and garlic.

5.       When garlic starts to sizzle, add the sliced hot pepper and ginger. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes,
        and then add the bell pepper and pea or edamame. Stir-fry for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the
        bell pepper is softened and the peas are bright green.

6.       Add the basil and mint, and stir for another minute before adding the pineapple and quinoa.

7.       In a measuring cup, combine the soy sauce (optional), vegetable stock, and mirin. Pour over the
       quinoa mixture. Stir to incorporate completely and coat the quinoa.

8.       Continue to stir-fry for 10 to 14 minutes, until the quinoa is very hot (it helps to use two
        spoons/spatulas to scoop the quinoa around).

9.       Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Seed to Supper

Alliance Medical Ministry hosted its fall Seed to Supper course from August 9th to September 13th. We had a total of 14 fantastic graduates! Community members and patients gained valuable information and hands-on experience with gardening basics. Alliance partners with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners to educate patients and community members on the process of creating and growing their own gardens. Upon completion of the course, all graduates received basic tools, organic fertilizer, seeds, seedlings, compost, and continued support.

Interested in the next 5-week Seed to Supper course? Contact The Community Garden & Wellness Program Coordinator.

Chair Yoga

Chair yoga continues every Thursday evening from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Alliance, taught by instructors from You Call this Yoga. Patients have had great success in taking a step towards bettering both their physical and mental well-being. The class is taught in English and Spanish.

Walk with a Doc

Walk with a Doc is a great way to get up and get moving while engaging with Alliance's providers and getting to know other community members. Join us every fourth Thursday from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. at Alliance. This month's walk with be held on Thursday, October 27th.  The walk is just over one mile, and water and snacks are always provided! Please note: due to the holidays in November and December, Walk with a Doc will take place on the third Thursday at 5:30 PM. Please be sure to check Alliance's upcoming events page to keep up-to-date on weather-related cancellations.

AuthorDavid Crittenden

Seed to Supper

Alliance Medical Ministry hosted its 5-week spring Seed to Supper course from March 30th to May 4th, where about 15 community members and patients gained valuable information and hands-on experience with gardening basics.  Alliance partners with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners to educate patients and community members on the process of creating and growing their own gardens. Upon completion of the course, all graduates received basic tools, organic fertilizer, seeds, seedlings, compost, and continued support.

Our summer/fall Seed to Supper course is currently underway!

Participants of the summer/fall course are scheduled to graduate on September 13th. Here's breakdown of the curriculum:

Week 1: Learning about soil, soil testing, building healthy soil, improving soil, composting, how to "double dig"

Week 2: Planning a garden: making a planting plan and map, crop rotation by plant family

Week 3: Planting a garden: preparing the soil, direct seeding, transplanting, seeding vs. transplanting, protecting young plants, vertical gardening

Week 4: Caring for the growing garden: watering, fertilizing, weeding, pest identification and management

Week 5: Harvesting and using your bounty: gardening for your health, crop-by-crop guide to harvesting and storing, nutrition, and cooking from your garden

If you're interested in taking the 2017 spring course, please contact Ashley Toscano at (919) 250-3320 x436 or

Cooking Matters

Cooking Matters is a cooking and nutrition course that helps families plan, shop, and cook healthy, nutritious, affordable, and delicious meals.  Alliance Medical Ministry is a site for this free, six-week program, coordinated with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

The spring "Cooking Matters @ Alliance" course saw a total of 20 participants, not including family members who tagged along for the experience!  This year, the course is a bit different.  While still following the Cooking Matters curriculum, we've gone plant-based!  Some of the meals we prepared include a Creamy African Peanut Stew, Lentil Bolognese, Oatmeal & Quinoa Cookies, Spiralized Zucchini (zoodles) with  a Thai Peanut Sauce, Potato Bake, Black Rice and Vegetable Salad, Infused Water, Green Smoothies, and more!

Thank you, volunteers!

Alliance would like to give a special thank you to all the volunteers who made this course possible! We had various volunteers who led the class, helped with setup and cleanup, assisted participants, and translated for Spanish-speaking patients.

One of our amazing volunteers was Kim Campbell, a celebrity of the plant-based nutrition world! She taught the first class of the 6-week spring course, and will be teaching the first class again this fall.

Kim Campbell (second from the left) discussing plant-based nutrition with Cooking Matters participants.

Kim Campbell (second from the left) discussing plant-based nutrition with Cooking Matters participants.

Kim works at PlantPure Nation promoting a plant-based diet, teaching culinary skills to jumpstart participants, and developing recipes for their jumpstart program. Kim's experience at PlantPure Nation has allowed her to hone her culinary skills, particularly in understanding how to create flavors, textures, and presentations that appeal to mainstream consumers experiencing a plant-based diet of the first time.  Kim is also the author of the PlantPure Nation Cookbook. For more information and access to free PlantPure recipes, click here.

Interested in learning more about plant-based nutrition from leading experts in the field? Check out the free and online PlantPure Summit 2016 that begins September 7th.

Patient Spotlight

Cooking Matters Grad & Chair Yoga Regular: 
Maria Martinez

Maria joined Alliance Medical Ministry's practice about five years ago, and is a regular patient of Dr. Sheryl Joyner.  Maria has arthritis, which over the years has gotten progressively worse.  At its worst, Maria often woke up twice a night in pain.  About two years ago, she started participating in yoga at Alliance with instructor Elise Dorsett.  She has attended over 25 classes in this year alone!  "The yoga has helped me so much!  I feel better.  It helps me deal with stress, helps with circulation, and the pain is better." She does yoga and stretches at home in the morning to help with her arthritis.  "Elise could pinpoint exactly what was wrong with my shoulder. She identified a yoga exercise and stretch that helps with my fingers, neck and ankles."

This spring, Maria joined the Cooking Matters @ Alliance class.  This was the first plant-based Cooking Matters class offered to patients.  "I loved it!  I learned about some of the issues that dairy can cause for certain people, and have been eating more vegetables and grains."  Since taking the class, Maria has lost 20 pounds as a result of changes she has made in her diet.  "My health is better and my weight has improved."  

Maria's favorite recipe from Cooking Matters?  The Creamy African Stew:

Creamy African Stew

Serves:  6         Prep Time: 15 minutes      Cooking Time: 35 minutes   


 2 onions, sliced into half rings

 1 carrot, diced

 3 celery stalks, diced

 2 teaspoons minced garlic

 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock

 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes

 1 tablespoon curry powder

 1 teaspoon sea salt

 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (100% peanuts)

 1 cup lite coconut milk

 1-15 ounces can chick peas, rinsed and drained

 2 cups chopped frozen spinach


1.     Add all the ingredients to a pot and cook over high heat until bubbly, 10-15 minutes. 

2.    Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender. 

3.    Kim's hints:  I like to throw everything into a slow cooker and allow it to cook over medium heat for 2-3 hours.  Turn the heat to low cooking until you are ready to serve.  Serve as a stew or over brown rice. The flavors are perfect after they have cooked for the day.   

Inspired by Maria's journey?
Join us for our fall Cooking Matters course!

Cooking Matters is set to begin on Tuesday, October 4th at Alliance. If you are already registered, please arrive by 5:30 p.m. in order to fill out paperwork. The class will take place from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The following five sessions will take place each Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., with the last class ending on Tuesday, November 8th. 

Spots are limited, and the class is filling up quickly! Contact Ashley Toscano at (919) 250-3320 x436 or to register.

Chair Yoga

Do you have aches and pains? Do you need to de-stress?

We've got the class for you!

Chair yoga continues every Thursday evening from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Alliance. Patients have had great success in taking a step towards bettering both their physical and mental well-being. The class is taught in English and Spanish.

Walk with a Doc

Walk with a Doc is a great way to get up and get moving while engaging with Alliance's providers and getting to know other community members. Join us every fourth Thursday from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. at Alliance. The walk is just over 1 mile. Water and snacks are always provided!


SalsaFit is a new program that was implemented this past July. Nearly 20 participants attended the 4-week Latin dance course taught by a volunteer and member of the Triangle Salsa Meetup, Allen Chavis.

What's the dirt on Alliance's garden?

We've been busy bees this summer! Alliance has harvested roughly 1,600 pounds of produce since February of this year!

Summer crops and flowers: Tomato, pepper, and eggplant varieties, okra, herbs (such as cilantro, parsley, lemon thyme, German thyme, sweet basil & Thai basil), cucumbers, yellow squash, patty pan squash, sugar baby watermelons, naranjilla, sunflowers, wild flowers, and zinnias

Our fall and winter garden is in the works!  Here's what we'll be planting:  Carrots, radishes, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi, kale lettuce varieties, spinach, broccoli and/or cauliflower, cabbage varieties, and more!

Garden Volunteers

Our volunteers this summer have poured a lot of sweat into the garden with the hot days we've been having! Thank you for all your hard work! We've weeded, created support for tomatoes and cucumbers, harvested, watered, mulched, removed old plants, prepared the soil, planted transplants, sowed seeds, and have even done some litter pickup around Alliance.

A special thank you to Dana Comber! She's been such a huge help in the garden! With her nutrition background, she also hopes to get involved with our upcoming Cooking Matters course.

A special thank you to Dana Comber! She's been such a huge help in the garden! With her nutrition background, she also hopes to get involved with our upcoming Cooking Matters course.

Alliance has had individual volunteers who come out to support us on scheduled garden work days, but we've also partnered with various youth groups, churches, and companies. From June to August we've had the pleasure of working with the following groups and organizations:

Activate Good
Crossroads Fellowship
LOL (Living Out Loud)
Wake AHEC Summer Camp
Highland Youth
Our Lady of Lourdes

AuthorDavid Crittenden
Megg Rader.jpg

Friends --

A new report has been published by the Institute for Research on Poverty that I wanted to share with you.  While the findings are not surprising to those in healthcare, they are no less compelling, and indicate why supporting comprehensive healthcare organizations like Alliance is critical to the health of our community:

  • Poor individuals are more than four times more likely to delay or forgo needed medical care due to cost than those with middle or high incomes (21.8% vs. 5.1%) (Data from the National Health Interview Survey)
  • The poor were more than nine times more likely than those in middle and high income ranges to forgo needed prescription drugs due to cost (18.3% v 2.85) (National Center for Health Statistics)
  • Proximity of a healthcare facility to their neighborhood is a challenge for the poor
  • A limited supply of health care providers presents further impediments to access for many low-income urban and rural poor persons

Read the full report here, as well as the author's proposals for evidence-based solutions, including promoting and expanding Community Health Centers, training more nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Friends, Alliance is caring for the uninsured with comprehensive health care in a way that has produced proven results and improved health outcomes -- weight loss, decreased A1c sugar levels, decreased blood pressure, and fewer ER visits:

Results of a summer 2015 patient survey conducted by Alliance and FGI Research, Inc.

Results of a summer 2015 patient survey conducted by Alliance and FGI Research, Inc.

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With our team-based approach to medicine and focus on preventative health with our Wellness Program, we are addressing the health disparities and improving the health of those with the greatest needs in Wake County.  

We need your help to continue doing so!  Have you made a gift to our Love Thy Neighbor campaign?  Or bought a pie through Share the Pie?  As the end of year approaches, I encourage you to think about Alliance in advance of the holiday frenzy with a gift today.



    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    Dr. Joyner changed my life.”  While these are words we often hear at Alliance, the stories associated with them always inspire us.

    Meet Michelle Turner, an Alliance patient of almost 10 years who regularly sees Dr. Sheryl Joyner.  Michelle works as a CNA with senior adults, and has no health insurance.  In late 2014, Michelle’s A1c hemoglobin was 6.3, borderline diabetic. The news hit Michelle hard, as her father is a Type 2 diabetic who needs a lot of care and support. “I knew if I didn’t do anything, I would end up like my dad, having to take insulin, being unable to work, being sick.  I didn’t want that to happen.”  

    Michelle Turner preparing a meal during a Cooking Matters class in early 2015.

    Michelle Turner preparing a meal during a Cooking Matters class in early 2015.

    At Dr. Joyner’s recommendation, Michelle signed up for Cooking Matters, a six-week cooking and nutrition program at Alliance taught by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle staff.  Michelle learned what foods to avoid and what foods to eat. “I don’t do a lot of fat, and I cut most sugars out. I look at all the food labels now to see how much sugar is in there.  If it’s not naturally in the product, I don’t eat it. I always have vegetables.  Before Cooking Matters, I was snacking on chips, basically anything I could get into my mouth. Now, I snack on fruits. I’ve changed my whole lifestyle.” 

    Michelle's health transformation didn't stop there. She signed up for the Diabetes Prevention Program, a year-long YMCA program taught at Alliance. The class taught Michelle not only how to eat well, but also the importance of exercise, offering participants a free pass to the Y for six months.  "It's not a diet.  It's a lifestyle.  If I want to have a hamburger, I shouldn't deprive myself, but I need to know that I'm going to have to work it off.  I've always been a yo-yo dieter.  Now I know that if I'm craving something, I should just eat it, exercise it off, and not feel bad about it." 

    Amy Ward, YMCA program instructor, said Michelle fully embraced the class.  “She jumped in 110%, took advantage of the exercise opportunities, sometimes multiple times a day.  We encourage the participants to find what motivates them internally, whether it’s family, friends, or your health, because at the end of the day, the coaches aren’t with you.  Michelle knew off the bat what goal she wanted to accomplish.  Absolutely nothing got in her way!” 

    “Before the class, I never exercised.  Now, I’m exercising six days out of seven.  I’m doing the elliptical, I’m running, I’m dancing. I have more energy. I don’t rest as much as I did before. I feel like I can take on the clients I have.  You’re a better caregiver when you take care of yourself.”

    Dr. Joyner calls Michelle her ‘star student’. “I love being able to provide support to my patients that enable them to see real, positive outcomes. Michelle changed her own life; I was just able to give her the tools to enable her to do it.”

    Patient Michelle Turner (middle) with Alliance’s Leanne Ritter, MA and Dr. Sheryl Joyner.

    Patient Michelle Turner (middle) with Alliance’s Leanne Ritter, MA and Dr. Sheryl Joyner.

    With changed eating habits and exercise, Michelle has lost 30 pounds, and her A1C sugar levels are normal!  

    Friends, with your help, we can continue to provide chronic disease management and health educational opportunities to give our patients the tools to improve their health and sustain their improved health.  With your support, our patients are getting healthier; they are better parents, spouses, and employees.   

    Every dollar you contribute helps us meet our annual fundraising goal of $1.1 million and helps Alliance continue to provide quality, comprehensive and holistic care to change the lives of patients like Michelle.  Will you make a gift today?

    Yes, I'll support Alliance!

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    A Farm to Table Dinner recap, by Kathryn Holding

    The gloom lifted, the grey skies turned blue, and the sun shone as 300 Alliance friends and supporters joined us in our Community Garden for our second Farm to Table Dinner!  

    The evening promised creative custom cocktails, locally-brewed beer and a locally-sourced and delicious family-style meal; our event partners delivered!  

    We began the evening with a cocktail hour in the garden and clinic tours.  Marshall Davis and the team from Gallo Pelon Mezcaleria created two of the most delicious cocktails you've ever tasted:  "The Doctor's Orders" and "The Prescription", with spirits from Troy & Sons:

    Raleigh favorite Trophy Brewing Company and David Meeker brought Trophy's delicious summer saison for the beer aficionados at the party.

    During cocktail hour, all those - whether new or familiar with Alliance - were invited into the clinic for tours from our physicians and medical staff.  

    Alliance 326.jpg

    Small bites were passed by Irregardless Cafe staff, and party-goers played a "game of chance" at our Wine Wall.

    Our garden and wellness programs were celebrated throughout the evening.  Our garden is in full bloom, and we were excited to include radishes in the spring salad prepared for the dinner!

    We welcomed two of our live auction package donors, Hillsborough craftsman Elia Bizzarri and live artist Dan Nelson to showcase their talents!

    Thanks to Maria Gunn, Beth Murphy, Emily McNair and all those who donated roses from their gardens, our tent was a floral wonderland!

    A fun cocktail hour was had by all!

    The sun began to set...

    ...and we headed under the tent for a family-style meal of fresh and local ingredients prepared by Irregardless Cafe.

    A highlight of the evening was an announcement by Alliance Executive Director Megg Rader about a $500,000 gift given by the Helton Family!  This transformative gift by such a special family has allowed us to pay off our mortgage.  With this gift, more of the funds we raised goes directly to our clinic, patients and programs!  Many, many thanks to Dr. Charles and Barbara Helton and their family for playing such an instrumental role in the past, present and future of Alliance!

    The evening concluded with our live auction of "unique experiences", including a 7-night stay at Pear Tree Cottage in the Cotswolds, a chef dinner at Bida Manda and fine art experience at Adam Cave Gallery, dinner for eight at Raleigh's newest restaurant/grocery Standard Foods, and a dinner for six at the award-winning Chef and the Farmer.

    We could not have made the event what it was without the help of our fabulous co-chairs, Dianne Davidian, Margaret Douglas, and Jennie Hayman!

    Alliance 703-1.jpg

    Many thanks to ALL who supported us at this event.  With your help, we raised over $150,000 for

    Alliance Medical Ministry!

    Interested in learning how to contribute to our mission?  

    Contact our Development Office by email,, or by phone, (919) 250-9254.  We'd love to have you join our family!



    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    I love the psalms. I always remember loving the psalms, probably because in the church I grew up in we chanted the psalm every Sunday, and I love to chant! The tone would get stuck in my head, and my sister and I would chant back and forth to each other throughout the week… “Jenna, would you get me water?” “No, sissy, I will not!” But I think there was more to me liking the psalms than a catchy tune. As I grew older I loved reading the psalms because they were filled with emotion. One moment the writer is happy, the next moment sad. One moment praising God for all God’s glory, the next asking why there is such tribulation in life. The psalms are works of art, and artful prayer.

    I now love that psalms are ways to meditate and pray. They are sacred words, God’s word that can be spoken back to God in a form of prayer. Out of all 150 of them, Psalm 139 has to be one of my favorites because something new catches me every time. This time when I read it, what stuck out was the second to last verse: “Search me out, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my restless thoughts.” Try me, Lord. Test me, God.

    I don’t know that I would always pray to God to test me. I think I most often want to pray to God “Keep me comfortable!” “I’m happy Lord, no need to try me right now!” or “I’m being tried enough in every area of my life, please don’t try me any more.”

    You better believe that when I first received my assignment to come to Alliance, I was scared. I had restless thoughts. Anxious thoughts. What was I getting myself into? Sure, I asked for an agency placement. Sure, I said I wanted to learn and grow and be stretched, especially in the area of pastoral care. But I’m more likely to pick safe over new. I’m more likely to feel confident in a church, not a medical clinic. I truly believe that God knew my heart. God knew that it was time for me to step out of the comfort zone of the Episcopal Church and into a brand new experience.

    Test me, Lord. Know how nervous I am. Try me, know my anxiety, and quell it. The beginning of this psalm says it all: “Lord, you have searched me out and known me… Indeed there is not a word on my lips, but you, O Lord, know it all together… Where can I go then from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Lord, you are always with me.

    I have so profoundly felt God’s Spirit moving here, through my interactions with patients, with staff, and with Toby. While I may have been like a deer in the headlights when I first got here, God has worked in me and helped me to become a more confident pastoral counselor than I ever believed I could be. God took my restless thoughts, and made them holy. God worked through the anxiety and fear, and made it into a gift and blessing.

    God is working like this in all of our lives right now. We are all stressed about something; and God knows that. God hears those anxious thoughts, those fears that we have. And God will never leave us. The last words of this psalm pray to God- “lead me in the way that is everlasting.”

    As I leave here, I move into another time of transition. Graduating, being ordained, moving, starting a new job, and preparing for marriage. I think the only way I will make it through this time is to pray to God and remind myself that God know these thoughts. God is trying me- God is calling, and I am following the call as anxiety-inducing as it is. As much as I want to pray for the comfortable, the happy, the non-anxiety-producing, I know that God knows my heart. God knows that following the call means being restless, and feeling tried and tested. And this is true for all of us- following God is not always easy, happy, and calm. But we know: we can never flee from God’s presence; the Spirit is never far from us. God listens when we pray: “Search me out, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my restless thoughts. Look well whether there be any wickedness in me and lead me in the way that is everlasting.” Amen

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    By: Kelsey Riggs, Garden Coordinator

    Last Saturday was Alliance’s Garden Launch and...mission accomplished! It was a great workday. We had volunteers from Service Raleigh, Edenton Street United Methodist Church, Activate Good, and the Raleigh Fellows Program. The garden was filled with extra hands ready to work, and those hands were such a blessing. We weeded the garden and mulched where we weeded in hopes that the weeds do not come back; for those of you growing your own vegetable gardens, know this is a very important task to do in early spring!

    Garden volunteers prepared more land for tilling by removing the grass and adding leaf mulch and compost to add nutrients to the soil. Our last group sanded and spray painted donated bamboo; later this week, I will construct a large bamboo teepee upon which to grow pole beans. We're looking forward to this creative project, and hope once it is finished that children will be able to explore inside the teepee and see the plants growing!  

    Although it was too cold to plant our seedlings, the ground is ready for them when the temperatures warm up! At the end of the workday, we had all the volunteers gather together and our Director of Pastoral Care, Toby Bonar, dedicated the garden to our patients and neighbors, and asked that the Lord bless our garden and make it fruitful:  

    Many thanks to all who came to this special event and help "make our garden grow"!  If you'd like to get involved in our Community Garden, we hope you'll join us at one of our two monthly garden workdays: the fourth Saturday of the month from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm, or the second Wednesday of the month from 5 to 6:30 pm.  Contact me with questions,

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    By: Dr. Tara Burnett-Lewis, Medical Director

    "Relationship".  When most people hear the word or see it in print, visions of romantic evenings or walks along the beach may come to mind.  Over the last several months, I’ve used this word frequently when explaining my thoughts about medicine. Simply put:  when you have good relationships, you have good medicine.

    Being able to walk in a room and know when something is different about a person based on the long relationship you've had with them is invaluable as a physician. Body language tells me what the person may be too frightened to say with his or her mouth.  As a doctor at this practice, I am able to walk with my patients as they journey through the trials of their lives.  

    Each day, I'm reminded of how important these relationships are, and why the work I do here is so special.  Today was extra special.

    Just before lunch today, a patient came in with her daughter and two granddaughters with a basket of donuts in hand and a card.


    While an act of kindness like this is not unusual at Alliance, I was struck by the relationship of the individuals. Standing before me were three generations of women who, thanks to my relationship with our patient, were expressing their gratitude to me. Gratitude for helping their matriarch, their nana. Gratitude for helping her to be more active and available to them thanks to her knee replacement. Gratitude for encouraging her to have more energy to make AMAZING donuts, homemade because her chronic health conditions are under control.

    To all of our supporters:  thank you for allowing us to form strong and meaningful relationships with our patients. Thank you for allowing us to provide the comprehensive and holistic care to allow our patients to take back their health and become healthier parents, spouses, and citizens.  We're not just thankful; we're eternally grateful!

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    by: Kelsey Riggs & Elizabeth Daniel

    How many of us know what ingredients are in our granola bar or those Cheeze-Its?  Probably not many, and if we did know we may not eat them as often!  When we eat foods in their natural form -- and especially when we grow them ourselves -- we know exactly what we are eating.  

    Members of Edenton Street United Methodist Church planting, weeding and harvesting in Alliance's garden during their Day of Service. 

    Members of Edenton Street United Methodist Church planting, weeding and harvesting in Alliance's garden during their Day of Service. 

    At Alliance, our doctors are not only prescribing medicine, they are prescribing healthy eating, exercise, and lifestyle changes. An integral aspect of changing habits is human empowerment through education and increased access to resources. We care deeply about our patients. We strive to create a sense of community for our patients and empower them to take charge of their health. We are able to do that through our community garden!  

    Alliance's Medical Director Dr. Tara Burnett-Lewis along with two patients harvesting kale in our community garden after November's "Walk with a Doc"!

    Alliance's Medical Director Dr. Tara Burnett-Lewis along with two patients harvesting kale in our community garden after November's "Walk with a Doc"!

    Our community garden is a beautiful, hands-on model that encompasses the elements of education and community building we value so deeply. Urban agriculture and community gardens are a growing need in our cities. Alliance's garden is used as an educational tool and a way to produce healthy, organic produce for our patients. It is ever-changing and ever-growing, and we enjoy the chance to learn with each other and our diverse community as it grows each season.  Alliance has chosen to take a small step toward sustainability and self-sufficiency by growing a community garden, but we can't do it without the help of our community! 

    Ravenscroft middle school students visit Alliance monthly for garden workdays.

    Ravenscroft middle school students visit Alliance monthly for garden workdays.

    Alliance has many ways for patients, community members, and volunteers to get involved. Every second Wednesday from 5-6:30 and every fourth Saturday from 9:30-12 we have a garden workday. These are great opportunities to dig your hands in the soil and learn first-hand about what goes on in a community garden. In the warmer months, attendees are able to harvest and see the fruits of our labor!

    This spring, we plan to plant beans, kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, beets, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes and even strawberries and blueberries!  When the garden is producing, we are able to harvest and bag our vegetables to give to our patients after their doctor visits. We like to put produce in each bag along with a related, simple, and healthy recipe, as well as some resources about local farmers markets around the city.

    Carina Saavedra, Alliance's former AmeriCorps member, with bags of lettuces and vegetables ready to give to our patients!

    Carina Saavedra, Alliance's former AmeriCorps member, with bags of lettuces and vegetables ready to give to our patients!

    On March 28th, we'll celebrate and bless our garden with a Garden Kick-Off!   We'll have seedlings ready to be transplanted into our garden and a few volunteer groups here to help with the effort. Many hands make light work; come one come all!

    Buzz on over for Alliance's Garden Launch!

    Come learn about Alliance’s garden, transplant our spring seedlings and dedicate the garden to our patients.  
    No experience needed!  
    The clinic will be open for tours.
    Alliance Medical Ministry,
    101 Donald Ross Dr., Raleigh 27610

    Interested in learning more about the value and importance of urban farming?  Check out the North Carolina Cooperative Extension and Food and Agriculture Organization of the  United Nations for more information, and contact Kelsey Riggs or Elizabeth Daniel to help at Alliance!

    Many thanks to our Garden & Wellness supporters who help keep our garden growing:

    Bank of America Foundation
    Burt's Bees The Greater Good Foundation
    Campbell Road Nursery
    Rex Healthcare/UNC Health
    The Hillsdale Fund
    Community Care Fund of the Doing Good in the Neighborhood Campaign, coordinated by Duke University's Office of Durham & Regional Affairs

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    By: Kelsey Riggs, Garden & Wellness Coordinator

    Our December Cooking Matters at the Store grocery store tour was a success! Alliance had the opportunity to team up with Interfaith Food Shuttle for their tour event day. The tour I co-facilitated was a blast!  We had such a lovely group of participants who were eager to learn and were very successful at the end with the ten dollar challenge.

    We met at 11:30 at Food Lion and began our tour. We teach economical meal planning from the perspective of trying to fill "My Plate", which demonstrates the five food groups to have at each meal and appropriate food quantity. As we move around the store, we learn helpful tips on buying healthy food on a budget and avoiding marketing or advertising tricks:

    Tip #1: Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables IN SEASON! For example, buy strawberries in the summer! They will be delicious and appropriately priced. Do not buy strawberries in the fall, they are loaded with preservatives and are expensive because of travel costs since they must be transported from tropical areas.

    Tip #2: Buy whole produce. Prepackaged and other “convenience” forms of produce (bagged, pre-cut, etc.) can cost more than whole forms (bundle of spinach or whole carrots) because you are paying for the “labor of processing.”

    Tip #3: Pay attention to unit price. When comparing the cost of buying individually versus in bulk produce or buying the medium container of milk versus the large, do not be tricked!! Compare unit price to discover the truly better deal!

    Once we finish our educational tour, our patients participate in "The Ten Dollar Challenge".  They receive a Food Lion gift card for ten dollars, which which they must buy at least one item in every food group on "My Plate" that follows our healthy eating guidelines. The patients love this exercise!  For one thing, they get a free re-usable grocery bag and ten dollars of free groceries. In addition, it gives them a chance to practice all the skills they just learned in the tour. They always come back with smiles on their faces. One patient of ours came up to me when we were checking her out and said, “This is just unreal. I can’t believe I’m getting all this for under ten dollars.” One hour at the store can positively change how these men and women grocery shop for the rest of their lives! 

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    Alliance held its inaugural “Pedal for Patients” bike event on Sunday afternoon, and over 30 bike enthusiasts gathered at Anderson Point Park for the recreational ride!  The weather was simply perfect! Clear, sapphire blue sky, bright, warm sunshine, and a gentle breeze swirling fall’s golden, brown leaves.  National Charity League volunteers greeted the bikers while Flythe Cyclery offered “last-minute” bike adjustments.  Most participants accepted the challenge and rode the 15-mile loop along Raleigh’s gorgeous Neuse River Greenway Trail, complete with views of a waterfall at Milburnie Dam and a suspension bridge over the Neuse.  Mileage points and water stations were marked with brightly colored balloons, and our National Charity League volunteers waved the riders along their way. More than nine “patient visits” were sponsored by riders!

    ‘Tis the season for outdoor fall festivals, fairs and friend gatherings, and Alliance’s 2nd Annual “Fun with Friends” event did not disappoint!  After our bike ride, over 150 Alliance friends met at Alliance for “Fun with Friends”, enjoying the spectacular weather and gorgeous garden setting.

    Flanked by the Community Garden (the focal point of the Alliance Wellness Program), Deli-icious, Only Burger, and LadyBug’s Treats food trucks provided dinner options, and Dave Dyer and The Crooked Smile Band performed bluegrass while sharing the Alliance story.  Andrew Leager of Boylan Bridge Brew Pub brought a truck and served complimentary beer from the pub and from Carolina Brewing Company.  Our new friends and partners from FlyWheel Sports brought their stationary bike to advertise the upcoming “Charity Bike or Barre” event to support Alliance…more details on that to come!Flanked by the Community Garden (the focal point of the Alliance Wellness Program), Deli-icious, Only Burger, and LadyBug’s Treats food trucks provided dinner options, and Dave Dyer and The Crooked Smile Band performed bluegrass while sharing the Alliance story.  Andrew Leager of Boylan Bridge Brew Pub brought a truck and served complimentary beer from the pub and from Carolina Brewing Company.  Our new friends and partners from FlyWheel Sports brought their stationary bike to advertise the upcoming “Charity Bike or Barre” event to support Alliance…more details on that to come!

    The afternoon was quite relaxing, with families playing cornhole on the lawn, guests dancing to the bluegrass beat, and folks enjoying food truck fare.  Alliance staff gave many tours of Alliance; the engaged crowd was “like a sponge”, “soaking up” information about the clinic and about how Alliance achieves its mission of providing a medical home to working, uninsured Wake County adults.  We’re excited that many folks are interested in volunteering at Alliance; please contact Elizabeth Daniel to find out more!

    Alliance is also grateful to the many event hosts and to those who generously gave to “sponsor a patient visit”.  We sponsored a total of 15 patient visits!  If you didn’t have the opportunity to do so at the event, please consider giving a $96.00 “patient visit” TODAY!

    The afternoon exceeded our expectations and truly was “Fun with Friends!”  We’d love to hear your feedback of the event and hear suggests for our next open house event.  See you next fall!

    Special “thank you” to our host committee:

    Carol & George Allen
    Marks Arnold
    Marlene & Ronnie Batchelor
    Diane & Paul Becton
    Mary Grady & Vic Bell
    May & Mark Bensen
    Anna Neal Blanchard
    Elizabeth & Martin Borden
    Carson & Bryan Brice
    Kathy & Garry Brown
    Anne & Matt Bullard
    Holly Burge & Steve Stafford
    Sarah & Chris Capel
    Michelle & John Connell
    Karen & Andy Cook
    Amy & Buck Copeland
    Pam & T. Barker Dameron
    Laura & Mark Davidson
    Elizabeth & Bo Dempster
    Pam & Hearon Dickson
    Elizabeth & Bill Dixon
    Wynn & Jim Dorsett
    Angie & Rick Dowd
    Jena Edelman
    Daphne Edwards
    Grace Evans & Jay Butler
    Mary Pat Evans
    Lisa & Mark Finkelstein
    Zack Fleming
    Emily & Richard Fountain
    Marynell & Ed Gehrke
    Tina & Jimmy Glover
    Sallie & John Glover
    Marcie & Darrell Gordon
    Sallie & Gordon Grubb
    Bonny & Robert Herrington
    Elizabeth & John Hogan
    Kathryn & Will Holding
    Cindy Holmes
    Martha & Ken Howard
    Ann & Bill Janvier
    Carolyn & Earl Johnson
    Helen & Calvin Kirven
    Lyn Maness
    RuthAnn Marenyi
    Louise & Steve McCoy
    Beth & Paul McCain
    Anne McLaurin & Charles Meeker
    Carrie McMillan & David Boaz
    Jo Anna & Doug McMillan
    Juana & Terry Mikels
    Jill & Howard Moye
    Lisa & Peter Pace
    Megg & Robert Rader
    Martha & Franklin Roberts
    Mary Nash & John Rusher
    Caroline & David Smart
    Bettie & David Sousa
    Margie & Rocky Springer
    Laurie & Sam Sugg
    Danny Thomas
    Mary & Don Tucker
    Merry & Bob Vaughan
    Elizabeth & Robert Wallace
    Elizabeth & Randall Williams
    Mary Clark & Erwin Williams
    Harriet & David Wilson
    Marion Winston
    Diane & Bobby Woronoff
    Carter Worthy & Tom Hester

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    This week marked the end of our last six-week Cooking Matters course.  Taught in conjunction with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, the weekly classes were taught in English and Spanish, and focus on healthy eating on a budget...our patients are raving about all they have learned!  Each class focused on a different area:  fruits and vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and putting together a healthy meal on a budget.  Part of each class is nutritional instruction -- where the instructor and patients discuss the nutritional content of the meals, -- and the second part is the practical cooking skills needed for each meal, including food and equipment safety.  "Patients really appreciate the class," says Alliance's Wellness Program Coordinator Carina Saavedra. "They want to eat healthier and have recipes that enable them to cook fast, healthy meals for their families. This class really empowers people to make positive changes in their lives." Graduation night for the Cooking Matters English-speaking class

    Graduation Night for the Cooking Matters Spanish-speaking class

    Alliance patient and Cooking Matters student Gail Johnson couldn't agree more.  "I'm so glad I went to the class!  I was really struggling with my diabetes, and had tried a number of medications at Dr. Lewis' suggestion.  My blood sugar level was over 300; now, after the class and making changes to my cooking and eating habits, my sugar level is, on average, 90, sometimes 80."  Gail says she is loving cooking again, and looks forward to her dinners each day.  "The biggest change I've made is that I'm now very aware of what I'm eating, when I'm eating it.  The hardest time is from 7:00 until bedtime.  If I want to snack then, I eat seedless grapes, raisins, or whole wheat crackers."

    The grocery store tour is one of the highlights of the class.  Wellness Program Coordinator Carina Saavedra says that the students "learn things you don't even think to learn about. The tour is broken down into sections of the grocery store.  We talk about how the store is set up, why it's important to buy around the perimeter where the fresh foods are, and why they should steer clear of the center aisles, where more junk foods and expensive packaged foods are located."  Gail says the information learned at the tour has stuck with her.  "When I go to the grocery store now, I shop the perimeter of the store. I get to the check out, and there's no Hamburger Helper, no boxed food...all veggies!"

    Food Lion "grocery store tour"

    Food Lion "grocery store tour"

    The tour included reviews of the canned and prepackaged foods. "We look at the convenience items, like prepackaged salad, and talk about the price benefits of buying a head of lettuce or unpackaged spinach. We compared fresh produce to canned and frozen produce, and packaged meats compared to other lean proteins like beans and eggs and Greek yogurts. We talk how confusing the labels can be for wheat, and learned that if it's not '100% whole grain', it's not actually whole grain," says Carina.  At the end of the store tour is the '$10 challenge', where each person must create a meal for a family of four using at least three of the food groups, under $10, using healthy ingredients.  "The patients got so creative! One dinner example used tortillas, salad, beans, peppers and onions.  Another was a stir fry with pasta squash, zucchini, onion and white beans."

    Gail's eating and cooking habits have changed dramatically.  "In the beginning of the class, they tell you to 'eat the rainbow'; well, my rainbow was brown and white, all meat and potatoes. Now I'm enjoying cooking fresh and frozen vegetables for dinner.  I've almost completely cut out red meat; I mainly eat fish and chicken.  One of the biggest changes I've made is that I've probably cut out 3/4 of the salt I use to use, and have been using seasonings.  Chef Kevin told us about using Nature's Seasoning, Mrs. Dash, and olive oil.  I've been doing that, and it's working.  I'm not craving salt anymore!"

    Chef Kevin

    At graduation, patients received a certification of completion, and take home a 'Cooking Matters' cookbook, take-home grocery bag, meat thermometer, cutting board, and notebook for their own recipes.  Congratulations to all who participated!

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    Relay Foods

    Allow us to introduce Relay Foods, an online grocer new to the Triangle that shares Alliance's love of "quality, healthy and sustainable" foods.

    With everything from grass-fed beef to local blackberries to gluten-free snacks, Relay has it all!  Relay partners with local producers to provide fresh and homemade food produced within 100 miles of our city.  Here at Alliance, our personal favorite are the Luna pops, made right around the corner in Hillsborough.

    Save yourself the time and hassle of your weekly grocery shopping by accomplishing it all in just a few clicks with Relay!  Relay has multiple pickup stops in the Triangle throughout the week, including Raleigh Brewing Company, North Hills, RTP, and right here at Alliance.

    Here's the best part:  over the next two weeks, Relay will donate $20 to Alliance Medical Ministry for every $50 of groceries you purchase! You must be a new Relay customer, and you must use the coupon code 'Alliance' at checkout. This offer is only good for two weeks, and only on the first order new customers place over $50. Click here for more details.

    What are you waiting for?  Start shopping now!

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    busy bee Our wonderful volunteers who share their time, talent and treasure with Alliance now have a special name, The Busy Bees! Alliance “Busy Bees” help us pollinate, grow and provide compassionate medical care for our neighbors. Below is a list of the awesome individuals who volunteered in 2013. Please join Alliance in thanking them for their service!

    If you would like to become a Busy Bee, let us know! Applications are online and are the best way to start the process. As you buzzzzzz about this opportunity, you can get the nectar flowing by considering the following sample.

    Group Options:

    • Community Garden: Help plant, weed and nurture our garden. We can work with your group to pick a special day, or come out on one of our regular work days: April 26, May 17, June 28, July 26, August 23, September 27, October 25, and November 22.
    • Service Days: Come on-site and help with yard and building maintenance. Projects will be based on your group’s skills and interest.
    • Collection Drives: Contact the office for a complete list is needs. Sample drives include office supplies (copy paper, stamps, pens, etc.), diabetic kits, OTC (over-the-counter) medications, and healthy snacks.


    Individual Options:

    • Clinical /Specialty Physician:       Provide medical care to Alliance patients.
    • Clinic Support: Provide nursing support by assembling charts, requesting medical records, completing medications paperwork, etc.
    • Medical Interpreter: Assist Spanish-speaking patients, translate for doctors (if certified), and make follow-up reminder calls.
    • Patient Services & Administrative Support: Assist Patient Services team with greeting patients, phone calls, mailings and general office support.
    • Alliance “Ambassador”:       especially at your church, to share the Alliance story, or as an Alliance representative at a mission or health fair.
    • Development/Annual Fund Committee: Help with creation, planning and execution of annual giving campaigns.


    If you have special talents, skills, or interests not mentioned above, but want to volunteer at Alliance, please let us know! Contact Elizabeth Daniel at 919-250-3320 X 422 or





    Deidre Albert

    LyTonya Alexander

    Betsy Allen

    Debbie Allison

    Will Alphin

    Ayodele Amodu

    Omaira Andersen

    Sandy Anthony

    Alexis Arzuaga

    Jason Ashe

    Kelly Bachman

    Jeff Barber

    Libby Barber

    Bob Barksdale

    Carol Barksdale

    Marlene Batchelor

    Ronnie Batchelor

    Margaret Bates

    Mark Bensen

    May Bensen

    Carol Bilbro

    Robert Bilbro

    Kasey Black

    Elizabeth Blair

    Anna Neal Blanchard

    Josh Bloom

    Elizabeth Borden

    Martin Borden

    Elizabeth Bradshaw

    Shawn Brewster

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    Carson Brice

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    James Buckthal

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    Matt Bullard

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    Chris Daugherty

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    Mark Davidson

    Bo Dempster

    Elizabeth Dempster

    Lindsey Denning

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    Bob Dietz

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    Rans Douglas

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    Robert Flowers

    Rebecca Forbes

    Emily Fountain

    Richard Fountain

    Debbie Fox

    Sheldon Fox

    Ella Frantz

    Stuart Frantz

    Susan Fuller

    Rick Gannotta

    Sandeep Gavankar

    Monifa Gethers

    Bill Giles

    Linda Giles

    Jimmy Glover

    Tina Glover

    Darrell Gordon

    Marcie Gordon

    Juan Granados

    Karen Green

    Gordon Grubb

    Sallie Grubb

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    Karen Harrison

    Sean Harrison

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    Wilson Hayman

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    Tom Hester

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    Larry Hines

    Tom Hines

    Jim Hinnant

    Sarah Hinnant

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    John Hogan

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    Walton Joyner

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    Helen Kirven

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    Sharon Lawrence

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    Carole Marcotte

    Rick Marcotte

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    David Yopp


    *Names are based on logged hours.

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    Stephanie Godwin, along with her husband and two boys, moved from New York to North Carolina for a better quality of life and to be in a family-friendly environment. They found exactly what they were looking for in Wake County! Stephanie takes care of their two boys, ages 9 and 11, while her husband works in the kitchen at a local Applebee’s. The company offers insurance, but the plans are still too expensive for an hourly employee. Come take a walk in Stephanie's shoes on May 1!

    Stephanie and her husband do what they have to in order to make ends meet for their family. But then Stephanie ended up in the emergency room when her asthma got out of control. Luckily, she was referred to Alliance following discharge and now has access to doctors, medications and comprehensive care.

    Recently Stephanie looked into health insurance options through, She found that their household income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, but not high enough to qualify for healthcare subsidies. Stephanie and her husband are one of thousands of Wake County adults who fall into the healthcare coverage gap. Luckily Alliance is here for Stephanie and many others just like her.

    You can help provide a medical home to individuals just like Stephanie by participating in our newest event on May 1, In Her Shoes Women’s Leadership Luncheon. This event was created to highlight the fact that 68% of our patients are women. Click here to learn more!


    AuthorDavid Crittenden

    Have questions about the Affordable Care Act/ Obamacare?Want to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace?

    Come to the Enrollment Fair!

    February 27, 2014 from 10 am to 3 pm at Alliance Medical Ministry 101 Donald Ross Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610

    Free information and enrollment assistance included.  Documents required for enrollment:

    1.Income Information:  pay stubs or W-2 forms.
    2.Household members’ dates of birth,
    3.Social Security numbers or document numbers.
    4.Information on current/available health insurance plans.

    You can also visit call locally: 1-855-733-3711.

    We are hosting a second Enrollment Fair on March 27 at Alliance Medical Ministry.

    AuthorDavid Crittenden

                      Daily, our providers take the time to counsel our patients on the proper choices to achieve better health outcomes: eat more fruits and vegetables, cut out fast foods, exercise more, take your medication, check your sugar levels, etc. We have found that it’s better to show our patients how to make healthy choices than to simply tell them. Alliance Medical Ministry provides a Wellness Programs that, when combined with our comprehensive medical home, gives our patients the tools they need to make lifestyle changes to improve their overall health. These pieces include the community garden, diabetes education, nutrition classes, exercise classes and group visits.  By incorporating these options with our clinical care, we are not only increasing access to care, we are giving our patients the education and tools to change health behaviors and overcome social and economic factors.

                      COMMUNITY GARDEN: The 2013 Wake County Community Health Needs Assessment

    Digging deep in the community garden!

    shared that 74% of our residents do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and if your household earns less than $50,000 the likelihood of eating fresh foods decreases immensely.  The average Alliance patient earns $19,907 for a household of three.  Cost is an economic barrier to healthy eating. That is why we collaborated with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS) in 2009 to establish a community garden on the Alliance campus to offer fresh vegetables to our patients. Produce harvested from the garden is individually bagged, combined with healthy recipes, and handed directly to patients by their provider or nurse. We are able to offer fresh vegetables to our patients, but more importantly teach them about healthy eating options. This reinforces the advice of providers and increases compliance.

                      DIABETES EDUCATION CLASSES: To promote health behavior change and improve long-term outcomes for patients with chronic disease, Alliance started diabetes education classes to address both the educational and behavioral changes necessary to promote lasting change.  In a typical office visit, our providers spend 20 to 30 minutes with a patient. That is not much time when you must address a variety of complex issues. By offering extra health education classes, our patients can learn about diabetes and how to manage their health on a limited budget.  The added benefit is the peer support that occurs in a group setting.  Patients see that they are not alone and learn from other patient’s questions.  We also incorporate garden activities into our curriculum.  Our Certified Diabetes Educators utilize the garden by preparing class meals, offered recipes, nutritional information and providing fresh vegetables to participants. Classes occur on Saturdays and are offered in English and Spanish.  To incorporate the whole family in this program and to ensure that childcare is not a barrier, we are working with the Poe Center to offer a pilot kids program, “Growing Healthy Gardens,” while the Diabetes Education Class is occurring. This program will educate kids on where their food comes from and healthy choices.  We are starting this pilot with three initial sessions with the hopes of incorporating it with all of our Diabetes Classes.

                      NUTRITION CLASSES: In the fall of 2013, we started nutrition classes that are fully kicking into action in 2014.  Once again in partnership with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle we are incorporating their “Cooking Matters” curriculum into our Wellness Program.  This program is an interactive nutrition education program that teaches families how to get the most nutrition on a limited budget. These courses provide a long-term strategy to address hunger by ensuring that families can prepare nutritious meals that are balanced, tasty, and economical. We have trained an AmeriCorps Member and other volunteers to offer classes at Alliance.

                      EXERCISE CLASSES: Recently we also started a partnership with Dr. Howie Shareff of You Call This Yoga to offer adaptive yoga classes to our patients 20 times in 2014. His chair yoga classes allow all individuals to participate regardless of their athletic ability.  The goal is to increase strength and flexibility while reducing stress.

                      GROUP VISITS: The group visit is an extended doctor’s visit where not only physical and medical needs are met, but educational, social and psychological concerns can be dealt with effectively. Patients normally spend 1.5 to 2 hours at Alliance for a typical visit. With the group visit, patients spend the same amount of time at Alliance, but now get to participate in an educational component and interact with other patients. A typical group visit starts with 12 to 15 patients learning about a specific health topic as led by the provider or educator. It is an interactive setting where patients benefit from hearing each others questions and offer up their own advice.  After the education session, the discussion continues with a facilitator while the provider sees patients individually. Our patients get increased health education and the benefits of a peer group setting. At the first group visit conducted at Alliance, the most popular saying from the interaction was, “me too,” after hearing other patients comments and questions. We have completed our pilot phase of this program focusing on our diabetic patients and are now seeking to expand with other providers in our practice and to add a group for obese patients. The pilot has shown improved clinical numbers for those that participated in the group visit verses those that did not.  Participants reported a higher understanding of their disease, increased confidence to manage their health and increased exercise.


                      At Alliance we offer compassionate care.  We do not judge, but instead offer a medical home model that builds a relationship with our patients. By offering access to health education, peer support, fresh foods and exercise in addition to primary care, we can take away barriers in making lifestyle changes. The different pieces of our Wellness Programs give our providers options to respond to each patient’s individual needs and achieve greater clinical outcomes.  Without this program, our patients would not have access to diabetes educators, nutrition experts or even exercise classes. With 78% of our patients dealing with at least one chronic health issues, these options help to affect positive health behaviors and overcome social and economic barriers.

    AuthorDavid Crittenden