Speaker Heastie Begins Annual Statewide Tour in Cortland and Tompkins Counties with Assemblymember Kelles

Speaker Heastie today began his annual statewide tour, joining Assemblymember Anna Kelles in touring Main Street in Cortland and meeting with the REACH Project, Inc Medical Director Dr. Justine Waldman, as well as touring the Learning Farm in Ithaca.

“One of the things I love about my annual statewide tour is seeing the ways that our communities turn out to support their friends and neighbors and strangers who need them,” Speaker Heastie said. “It was great to see the communities here in Ithaca and Cortland working so hard to support one another, whether that’s the Learning Farm teaching the next generation about the importance of agriculture and sustainability, or REACH Project helping people get the healthcare they deserve without judgement.” 

“It was a pleasure to have Speaker Heastie in the district today and visit some of the organizations that are doing great work here in Ithaca and Cortland,” Assemblymember Kelles said. “The organizations we visited today invest in our community and in our future in different ways. The Learning Farm teaches our kids about the future of agriculture, their food and their futures. REACH Project, Inc. invests in our community by ensuring the health and wellbeing of those who need care most, and may be less likely to seek it out.”

On the first stop of the day, Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Kelles visited a new district office in Cortland, and toured Main Street in Cortland. They were joined by Medical Director Dr. Justine Waldman, and discussed the REACH Project, Inc., a nonprofit that works to get quality health care for individuals that frequently face stigma in healthcare settings. They operate under the principle that individuals should not face judgement or stigmas due to drug use, homelessness or any other issue. Their services include Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), primary care, PrEP, PEP, and HIV treatment, Hepatitis C testing and treatment, counseling services, behavioral health, care management, and social supports and peer programs.

Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Kelles also toured the Learning Farm, where Speaker Heastie and Assemblymember Kelles were joined by cofounder Christa Núñez. The Learning Farm allows children to connect hands-on with agriculture – how it’s grown, how it can be cultivated for optimal nutrition, and land and crop sustainability – using technology and science to become more than just food consumers. Agriculture is a critical part of New York State’s economy and the state is home to more than 33,000 family farms and nearly 700 farmers markets. Christa Núñez is an African American entrepreneur, researcher, agriculture educator, social justice practitioner and storyteller, and focuses her work on creating cooperative land governance models and equitable food systems with African diaspora communities.