Offering a Hand up, Not a Hand Out

Valerie Andrews

The CHEST Foundation is known for awarding grants to researchers and clinicians, but it also supports community-based health advocates. 

Valerie Andrews, a community leader in south Sacramento, California, was awarded a CHEST Foundation grant in 2021 to support individuals who suffer from asthma.

She is the Founder and Program Director of the JUDAHH Project, a nonprofit organization that provides a wide range of services for the underserved community of south Sacramento—the area where she grew up. The goal of JUDAHH—which stands for “Just Us Delivering A Helping Hand”—is to help empower residents with a “hand up” instead of a “hand out.” 

JUDAHH Project booth

Andrews used the grant funding to provide more than 50 families in south Sacramento with HEPA filters, vacuums, and other cleaning products that would help mitigate the effects of asthma in their households. 

“If we hadn’t received CHEST Foundation funding, we wouldn’t have been able to provide critical asthma mitigation products to the community that really, really depends on them,” she said. 

Through the JUDAHH Project, Andrews also leads an asthma mitigation program to help educate the community on asthma detection, treatment, and management. She teaches residents how to use their inhaler, helps them develop a personal asthma action plan, and discusses the right questions for them to ask their doctor. 

In partnership with Regional Asthma Management & Prevention program in Oakland, Andrews offers home visits to conduct an asthma trigger assessment and help remediate environmental triggers.

“I had a 60-year-old African American lady come into my office and literally break down in tears because she didn’t understand how to utilize her asthma inhaler,” Andrews said. “And let me tell you, she was on five different medications, and she said she was too embarrassed to ask her doctor. Those are the people we’re impacting… It’s the education people need.” 

Asthma is a profound burden for many families in south Sacramento who sometimes don’t have access to food, let alone health care education and supplies. Andrews said her purpose is to make a difference in as many people’s lives as she can. 

“They just need a helping hand. They need a friendly face. They need someone who they trust,” Andrews said. “So me, as a community supporter—I just feel compelled to help out. To be that conduit between them and their doctor.” 

JUDAHH Project

Support initiatives like the JUDAHH Project by donating to the CHEST Foundation.