Macon-Bibb County Health Department
Purpose Prize Fellow 2006
When Ecleamus Ricks retired from a career in public service, his intent was to relax and do some farming. But the social challenges surrounding him were too big to ignore.
When Ecleamus Ricks, 62, retired from a career in public service, his intent was to relax and do some farming. But the social challenges surrounding him in Macon, Georgia, were too big to ignore, and so in 1997 he joined the Macon-Bibb County Health Department as an administrator.Ricks used a comprehensive approach to address local poverty and its underlying contributing factors — teen pregnancy, health disparities, violence, and educational limitations. He designed the Resource Mothers and Fathers Outreach Program to provide education, referrals, and follow-up to help youth and adults improve physical, mental, educational, and socioeconomic outcomes for themselves and their families. Since 1997, the program has employed 45 people, all welfare recipients, saving an estimated $450,000 in public assistance. More than 9,000 youth and families have received health and social services, and the community has seen significant decreases in school absenteeism and discipline problems. Ricks also initiated a health department program providing dental care for the low-income and chronically ill and started a free summer camp for youth.