people eating lunch City of Avondale Heath

"For instance, for us, we bring in a nutritionist on site, a dietitian on site, our fit bit programs and so on— you kind of list all those out and they are weighted."

The city of Avondale has great reason to celebrate as they were awarded “Gold” by Healthy Arizona Worksites Program this May.

With over 500 employees and 10-plus departments to oversee, it’s no easy task to keep a workplace healthy and safe for all workers.

But Avondale has proven to be successful in this category.

Kathy Reyes, the city of Avondale’s benefits program manager, is a 40-year city resident, and she highlights her experience working for the city in a positive light.

“When you live where you work, it brings a lot of things into perspective, and I’ve learned that Avondale really does reach out and try to figure out what we can do to enhance lives,” Reyes said.

Community outreach is one of Avondale’s priorities, and the staff strives to do the best it can do for its residents, but according to Reyes, employees are equally as important.  

“If we’re going to really reach out in community, we need to reach internally as well and try to have a positive impact on our employees and their families,” Reyes said.

Avondale offers a variety of services and programs to its employees as it has at least one program a month for workers to better their lifestyles.

One of the more popular programs is the cardiac and organ screening. Reyes explained the screening uses high-tech equipment and returns polarized pictures with results you can take to your physician.

“What’s really amazing is when you take in (the results) and your physician goes, ‘Wow, these are great quality. Where’d you get them?’” Reyes said. “We’ve really had great success with this program.

But it doesn’t end there.

Another popular service the city of Avondale employees enjoy are the interactive Fit Bit programs.

“We all compete against each other internally,” Reyes said. “We have walking challenges. We do hidden treasure challenges. And if we want, we can link into teams and compete together.”

The city also hosts skin cancer screenings, behavioral change seminars, nutrition seminars, stress management seminars, mammograms, on-site prostate exams, flu and pneumonia tests, glaucoma tests and other various eye tests.

“We really do try to make (our services) pretty broad—something for everybody that fits in everybody’s schedule.” Reyes said.

HAWP’s judging process is extensive, but according to Reyes, this wouldn’t stop her team’s mission to be recognized.

“First you go to classes and learn the process, and then you write a paper and talk about what you’ve done (as a workplace),” Reyes said. “For instance, for us, we bring in a nutritionist on site, a dietitian on site, our fit bit programs and so on— you kind of list all those out and they are weighted.

“That weight goes in and it’s reviewed — you kind of have to give an action plan, your goals, what they are, did you make them, how did you make them, are they measurable—and then you submit them into a committee, and at that point, you are notified of a deficiency or you’re notified basically ‘Congratulations, you’ve earned this award—it’s a process.”

As Avondale workers continue to circle through their employment, Reyes wants each employee to benefit from at least one thing throughout their experience.

“Everybody has a different journey—if some people are not interested in fit bit challenges, that’s great,” Reyes said. “But if I can get you to a cardiac screenings and talk about good health and try to have you think about ways to live a better life, that lives on forever—generation to generation.

“When you have people come up to you and go, ‘Thanks so much for that cardiac screening you did,’ it potentially saved someone’s life—that’s pretty powerful. Even if we save one person, that’s an amazing thing to be able to do in a workplace.”

Avondale has been labeled Gold by HAWP for the second year in a row, but for Reyes, she isn’t completely satisfied. The next step is to reach platinum level.

“We will reach platinum level—there’s no question—and I’ve got that on my target,” Reyes said. “We’re going to really try and see what our partnerships look like with our fire departments—all fire departments have amazing peer groups or trainers—and see if we can get more stuff done in house at different convenient schedules.

“We’re also looking far into the future and seeing if it’s even possible to bring some kind of wellness clinic to our west side cities where employees can go.”