Brain Health Center for African Americans’  Partner Spotlight

Brain Health Center for African Americans’ Partner Spotlight

“Laughter is Medicine: HFC Brings the Funny & Education to the Discussions About Alzheimer’s Disease”

The Balm In Gilead’s National Brain Health Center for African Americans partners with a diverse group of organizations, academic centers, and other community-based organizations to support its mission to increase awareness among African American communities about brain health and cognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It takes a village, and The Balm is proud to highlight HFC’s work (formerly Hilarity for Charity). Founded in 2012 by Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller Rogen (HFC) is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to care for families impacted by Alzheimer’s, inspire the next generation of Alzheimer’s advocates, and be leaders in brain health research and education.

HFC is accelerating progress in Alzheimer’s care, prevention, and support all while bringing some laughs and light to the too-often disheartened Alzheimer’s space. The organization’s blend of comedy, entertainment, and education helps bring much-needed awareness to this disease for which there is currently no cure. In addition to hosting its signature live events and Brain Health Dinners, HFC has raised over 13 million dollars and awarded over 325,000 hours of in-home care relief to Alzheimer’s family caregivers through their Caregiver Respite Grant Program. In addition to providing caregiver respite, HFC organizes online support groups to build caregiver community and connectivity, engages young people across the country to become Alzheimer’s advocates, funds prevention-focused and brain-health research, and teaches people how to care for the health of their brains today, so they can reduce their risk tomorrow.

The Balm commends HFC for their amazing work. We look forward to partnering with them in the future as a part of The NBHCAA’s mission to improve brain health equity and disrupt the impacts of Alzheimer’s and dementia in congregations and communities nationwide. To learn more about HFC, brain health, and how you can get involved, visit them on the web at

The Balm In Gilead’s Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative (SDFI) Transitions to Distant Learning

The Balm In Gilead’s Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative (SDFI) Transitions to Distant Learning

In the United States, more than 88 million adults suffer from prediabetes. Roughly 84% of these individuals are unaware that they have this disease.

The Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative (SDFI) is a multi-state faith-based initiative created by The Balm In Gilead to expand access and utilize the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP). The goal of SDFI is to address the increasing burden of prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes in the African American community.

A New Way of Learning

Before COVID-19, the Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative held 37 weekly face-to-face classes in five states. 85% of these classes were held at local churches. However, as a result of the stay at home orders, the research-based program focusing on healthy eating and physical activity needed to shift to a virtual delivery system so that learning could continue.

Research shows that online learning can help increase the retention of information. Nearly 450 participants embraced and adjusted to the “new normal” despite the varying comfort levels in using digital technology. “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a shift in how we learn and communicate,” said Tanya Henderson, SDFI Program Manager. “We had a sudden shift away from classroom instruction, and overall it has been well received.”

Transitioning to a distance-learning format has allowed The Balm In Gilead to continue providing a valuable service to communities that are more vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes. “COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the African American community,” Pamela Price, Deputy Director of The Balm In Gilead. “Scientific lifestyle changing programs like the Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative culturally tailor activities and messaging to help reduce the long-term burden of diabetes on communities of color.”

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognized four out of five Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative state organizations for full or preliminary recognition. This means that programs offered through SDFI demonstrate the effectiveness and achievements on the scale of national performance criteria and standards. The national recognition allows SDFI to serve more Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries through the covered health benefit of Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP). “We’ve worked very hard to achieve this recognition. Preventing Type 2 diabetes is paramount for saving lives,” exclaimed Henderson.

The accomplishments achieved by the Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama have led to the expansion of the program into Mississippi.

“The Balm In Gilead hopes that as more learn about the Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative, they will want to participate and help improve the overall quality of life for African Americans and other minorities through prayer, education, advocacy, and healing,” said Price.

As distance learning becomes the new norm, classes will continue. “We are excited to announce that we are offering new distance learning programs starting this Fall and continuing with hybrid learning in Spring 2021, ” said Price.

For more information on the Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative, visit