Wendell, Wake County, North Carolina : a community diagnosis including secondary data analysis and qualitative data collection Public Deposited

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  • January 13, 2022
  • Daniels, Ann
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior
  • Klein, Melissa
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior
  • Ornstein, Katherine
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior
  • Ostafin, Margaret
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior
  • Wendell, North Carolina is a rural town of 3,946 people located 12 miles east of Raleigh (Wendell Chamber of Commerce, 1999). This document is intended to serve as a comprehensive community resource for the town of Wendell. It was created by graduate students in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the support of Wake County Human Services. This document identifies the strengths, assets, and challenges that affect the community of Wendell. It is the product of a year-long Community Diagnosis project. A community diagnosis: …aims to understand many facets of a community including culture, values and norms, leadership and power structure, means of communication, helping patterns, important community institutions and history. A good diagnosis suggests what it is like to live in a community, what the important health problems in a community are, what interventions are most likely to be efficacious, and how the program would be best evaluated (Steuart, G.W. and Kark, S. L., 1962). As we began to work in Wendell, we discovered that “Wendell” is defined in different ways. The U.S. Bureau of the Census classifies Wendell by the zip code - 27591. The town government identifies Wendell as its incorporated two square mile area. Residents’ opinions on the definition of Wendell also vary. While some consider other small towns that share the Wendell zip code, like Riley Hill and Lizard Lick, to be part of Wendell, others see them as separate entities. For the purpose of this document, we are focusing on the incorporated town of Wendell. This decision was made because of limited time and resources for the project. Moreover, since Wendell's population makeup is different than other areas which share its' zip code, it would have been difficult to speak with enough residents to document, and do justice to, all perspectives that exist in the area. In order to get a complete picture of Wendell, it is imperative to look beyond official data and statistics and talk with the people who live in the town. Hence, this document includes information from a variety of sources and represents many viewpoints. The first phase of the community diagnosis occurred in the fall of 1998. Secondary data, which included population and health statistics as well as economic indicators, were gathered from local, state, and national health and service agencies. Local newspapers and town documents were also useful sources. Whenever possible, information was collected on Wendell, Wake County, and North Carolina for comparison purposes. The second phase was primary data collection, which occurred during the fall of 1998 and the spring of 1999. Primary data collection involved obtaining information from interviews with community members and service providers. In the final phase of this process a forum was held in Wendell, in which both quantitative and qualitative information was presented to community residents. The collection of secondary data was an important part of this project. Potential limitations, however, exist with any data set. For example, federal, state, and local agencies may not be able to update their statistics each year. Potential users of this document are therefore encouraged to look for the most current information available. This is especially relevant to Wendell which is situated in an area that has experienced significant growth in population and industry during the 1990s. Although the views of community members interviewed are faithfully recorded in the document, we could not speak to everyone in Wendell. As we began to work with the community, we realized that many communities exist within the larger one of Wendell. Individuals spoke about belonging to several communities at once creating multiple ties among Wendell residents. Town leaders are church members, parents, and belong to service organizations; church leaders are former Town Council members and business owners; community members head volunteer organizations and work in local businesses. These overlapping networks help to create a strong community with a deep sense of pride. Many of the most salient issues for Wendell residents were brought to light during our interviews. Community members were eager to talk about their town, its strengths, and the issues it currently faces. Community pride is strong in Wendell, and it is one of the town’s greatest assets. A reflection of this pride is the deep commitment to the town’s current and future success. Residents are involved in numerous social service clubs, which are extremely active and are assets to the community. There is also a strong commitment to faith in Wendell. Church programs and outreach work serve to unite the community and provide for citizens in need. Community members also take pride in downtown Wendell’s distinction as a nationally recognized historical landmark and strive to create a balance between the unique feeling that comes from small town life and the recent growth in the area. Wendell, like Wake County, has grown tremendously during the past several years and will probably continue to do so. A primary concern related to growth for Wendell is traffic. The construction of the U.S. 64 Bypass was identified as a priority in both primary and secondary data collection. The overburdened U.S. Highway 64 affects commuting time, access to services, and overall convenience for residents. It also has a significant impact on the growth of the area and, consequently, the quality of life for all. Residents and providers voiced a concern that further delay in the construction of the Bypass may ultimately have a negative impact on the growth of the entire eastern Wake region. Population growth challenges the full incorporation of new citizens into community life. Wendell, Wake County, and North Carolina are popular destinations not only for people from the U. S., but from other countries as well. Residents of Wendell also face the challenge of how best to assist an emerging Latino population who struggles with a language barrier. Industrial growth in the area will affect Wendell for years to come. There is much debate about the type of business and industry Wendell should attract, as well as how best to accomplish this. A primary reason for attracting businesses to the area is to increase the town’s tax base, which will reduce the tax burden on residents. Any discussion about attracting new business must also include services, medical and otherwise. The community will need to offer convenient services to its residents that are comparable to those of neighboring towns in eastern Wake County. As a promotional effort, local business owners, with the assistance of the town government, created an advertising campaign. A commercial and jingle were written (See Appendix F) and began playing on a local television and radio stations in the spring of 1999. This is a significant step for a town of its size. Looking to the future, Wendell seems to be standing on firm ground. A steady, but not overwhelming growth rate, coupled with low unemployment and increased economic possibilities, create a stable foundation from which to confront future challenges. We hope that the information presented in the following chapters will be a tool to assist with decision making for the present and future. It is also hoped that the data presented will provide pertinent information to facilitate frank and open discussion among town leaders and community members as they continue to strive to make Wendell the “home of progress and opportunity.”
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  • In Copyright
  • Wardell, Lechelle
    • Other Affiliation: Wake County Human Services
  • Quinn, Sandra Crouse
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior
  • Master of Public Health
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 1999
  • iii, 83 pages, 39 unnumbered leaves : illustrations, maps ; 28 cm.

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