Local Snapshot

2020 Goal: Decrease the proportion of obese adults by 10%.

2024 Goal: Reduce the number of adults whose general health is fair or poor by 25%.

The need: 7 out of every 10 people are considered overweight or obese. Berrien County ranks 59 out of 83 counties in Michigan in overall health outcomes. Cass County ranks 42 out of 83.


Lifeline of hope and help

Debra was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2009. She underwent surgery, followed by two years of intense treatment. Her cancer returned in an aggressive fashion in 2015, requiring weekly treatments in Chicago. During this time, she got acquainted with Berrien County Cancer Service - Skilled Nursing and Supportive Resources, a United Way-funded partner through a health fair at Spectrum Health Lakeland.

The first time she came to the Berrien County Cancer Service office, she was grateful for the medical supplies and gas card that they were able to give her, as well as the emotional support they provided during that visit.

Soon after, she required sophisticated surgery and found out that her insurance only covered a few in-home nursing visits, which were not enough to take care of her needs. The BCCS nurse came to her home to assist her with these skilled nursing procedures and provided medical supplies.

Debra has not been able to work and much of her finances have been spent on her medical issues, so she continues to stop by BCCS to pick up supplies at times. Debra maintains a very positive attitude, and in turn, gives back to BCCS as a volunteer. “I don’t think I could have kept looking forward without their knowledge, genuine caring and encouragement,” says Debra. “It is something that other communities should strive provide.

Those impacted by United Way…

84% of individuals increased their mental/ emotional health

83% of individuals improved their quality of life

76% of children/ adults achieved a healthy weight

12,450 people impacted

12,215 individuals obtained access to healthcare services and supports

5,449 people participated in physical activity or healthy food access/ nutrition programs

693 individuals maintained their ability to live at home

130 caregivers received respite


Collective impact happens when a group of organizations commit to addressing a community-wide social issue that cannot be solved alone.  It means adopting a new way of working by bringing nonprofits, governments, businesses, and the public together around a common agenda.  Collective impact can produce large-scale social change in ways that other forms of collaboration and individual efforts have not.  


Be Healthy Berrien is a countywide partnership of Andrews University School of Health Professions, Berrien County Health Department, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Spectrum Health-Lakeland, United Way of Southwest Michigan and YMCA of Southwest Michigan. They are working together to reduce obesity and chronic illness by creating healthy places to live, work, learn and play. For more information about Be Healthy Berrien, visit BeHealthyBerrien.org.

For more information, visit www.behealthyberrien.org or contact Heather Cole at heather.cole@uwsm.org.