It is hard for us to let her retire in peace, but this summer we said a very fond farewell and happy retirement to longtime PATH Board member, Lynda Kinnane.
Working with local pediatricians, health and human service agencies, and community members, Lynda was instrumental in the birth and evolution of PATH (then known as Graham Children’s Health Services of the Toe River). Her vision for ensuring that every child in our region has the opportunity and resources to be as healthy as possible has been the cornerstone in forming our community-led volunteer network. Lynda’s acumen has enabled us and many others to identify disparities in health and human services and to initiate creative, community driven, solutions to those problems.
Lynda has been a ‘Champion for the Children’ of Yancey County since first locating to the area in 1976. She began her professional career as a dental hygienist. (Being a small community as it is, she first worked for Forrest McCall, DDS, the father of our current Director, Schell!) Functioning in that role, she observed that the traditional medical model was not addressing healthcare needs at the true root of the problem. Determined to make a difference in the lives of children living in our community, Lynda reentered academia and obtained her Master’s Degree in Public Health – Nutrition. Around 1985, she began her work at the Yancey County Health Department as an advocate for community health. She started with Toe River Health District as a volunteer in the WIC and Maternity Clinic, and moved her way up in the organization. She recognized the empowerment her clients gained with the knowledge of and ability to effect personal health behavioral change. This led her to envision health promotion and disease prevention programs that would treat the entire community, rather than just the individual person. Lynda would expand her role in the Health Department to eventually serve as the Director of the Toe River Health District for seven years, retiring in 2017.
Lynda’s accomplishments are a testimony to her signature inclusive approach towards community well-being. She is continually exploring options for developing innovative programs to remove barriers to community members reaching their maximum potential. By expanding her role outside the expected boundaries she challenged other agency directors to do the same. Using her tremendous grant writing skills, she brought in well over a million dollars in grant funding for health promotion and disease prevention, and mentored many professionals in the community to grow their own grant writing skills, expanding her impact even further.
In addition to the Toe River Health District and PATH, she has chaired and participated in: Mitchell-Yancey Partnership for Children, Child Fatality Task Force, SafeKids, Healthy Yancey, Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, WorkFirst Planning Committee, Healthy Yancey, Mitchell Yancey Healthy Families, Center for Rural Health Innovation, Mitchell Yancey Substance Abuse Task Force, and a Health for Hispanics Committee. She is continuing to give her time and skills to our community in a role of Master Food Volunteer, participating in cooking demonstrations around the county.
In 2003, Lynda was the recipient of Glaxo Smith Kline’s Child Health Recognition Award. Included in the award was a monetary grant of $500 which Lynda graciously donated to PATH as the first building block of our endowment campaign. Lynda also played a large role in the Toe River Health District being awarded the “Sparkle Project Award” by the NC Public Health Association for the Good Health Project.
Lynda’s collaborative and inclusive approach towards community well-being illustrates what we can accomplish together. Although she has been stepped down from her official PATH Board responsibilities, as a consummate volunteer Lynda has said that we can still call on her for help!