Collier and Lee Counties Edition
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Accolades for the Blue Zones Naples Project

Since NCH Healthcare launched the Blue Zones Project in 2014, it has enjoyed continued success. “Individuals and organizations are now reaching out to us. We no longer have to knock on doors in Naples, Marco Island, Immokalee, Bonita Springs and Estero to promote our community-wide well-being initiative that helps make the healthier choices the easiest choices,” says Deb Logan, executive director of the Southwest Florida Blue Zones Project.

The eight-year project has received accolades from many of its participants, such as The city of Naples, Lely Homeowners Association and several Blue Zones workshop volunteers, including Lisa Guenloh, Andrea Posner and Deborah Woller.

Healthy vending machine at Naples City HallCity of Naples

“From a community perspective, as well as our organization that consists of 460 individuals, we’ve had a positive experience,” says Bill Moss, Naples city manager. “We went through an extensive process designed to enhance a healthy and productive workplace. The results of that effort include allowing us to stabilize health insurance rates for the last five years, a healthy financial benefit to taxpayers who indirectly pay for our insurance. We also now look at our city from a more holistic perspective, which includes considering how the built environment, sidewalks, street landscaping, parks and bike paths can be used to enhance blue zone concepts and allow residents and visitors to move easily, live without unnecessary stress and interact with others. We also have healthier snacks in our vending machines and encourage businesses and grocery stores within our city limits to help build awareness by having displays of healthy foods that are part of Blue Zones. Wynn’s Market has one.”

Lisa GruenlohLisa Gruenloh

Gruenloh, a Blue Zones purpose workshop facilitator and director of development at the Naples Community Hospital (NCH) Center for Philanthropy, loves helping people find their purpose and live a more fulfilling, meaningful life. “We’ve reached thousands of people in Southwest Florida. From young people wanting to establish a meaningful career to mid-career professionals needing a sense of rejuvenation in work and life and retired individuals going through change or disappointment and seeking new ways of living with purpose, I hear a lot of stories about the exciting and often courageous changes in their life after the workshop,” says Gruenloh.

Andrea PosnerAndrea Posner

Posner is a member of the VeronaWalk Homeowners Association, which comprises 1,920 homes. As a Blue Zones volunteer, Posner has served in numerous roles, beginning with the retail food committee dedicated to educating restaurants and grocery stores on the benefits of adding Blue Zones plant-based options, as well as promoting Blue Zones-approved certification.  

“When a former VeronaWalk Homeowners Association board member read about another community receiving Blue Zones recognition, he said, ‘If they can, we can.’ Since I was already involved, I offered my help. The next thing I knew, I was congratulated, Blue Zones display at Wynn's Market, Naplesnamed as chairperson and put in charge of forming a committee. We needed 480 signatures from HOA families who would agree to take the Blue Zones personal pledge. We got 600,” Posner recalls.

“We also started three Blue Zones Moais, a concept from Okinawa, Japan, which roughly means meeting for a common purpose. Our potluck moai meets for 10 weeks to learn how to cook plant-based meals. We also have a restaurant and walking moai. I’ve been part of a walking moai for two years and I appreciate the friendships and social networks I’ve formed,” notes Posner.

Sara Deets (left) and Deb Woller at Sara’s 100th birthdayDeborah Woller

Woller, whose lifestyle reflects Blue Zones goals, has also been involved in multiple Blue Zone roles. She began with assisting businesses such as NCH and Arthrex with collecting pledges at local farmers’ markets and special company events and acting as a purpose workshop co-facilitator. “I am passionate about educating people on different choices and the importance of having a sense of purpose. As a result of volunteering I’ve seen that with a strong purpose in life, anyone’s ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda’ dreams can still come true. Women I’ve met, who ranged in ages from 100 to 103, told me stories about riding elephants in Zimbabwe at age 96, walking the great wall of China at 94 and penning poems for a children’s book at age 90,” says Woller.

Logan recommends that individuals interested in learning more about Blue Zones register for Blue Zones Ambassador training, which explains all the ways to get involved in the project and reach out to worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores and faith-based organizations, as well as other types of businesses in Naples and other nearby communities.

For more information, call 239-624-2312 or visit SouthwestFlorida.BlueZonesProject.com.

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