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How a group of small-town activists and college students set out to change healthcare

by Charles Barber

The story of how the work of one small group of people grew to meet the size of their calling: to ensure that Health Care is a Right, Not a Privilege.

Peace & Health is the story behind this improbable effort: the 20-year-old who plants the flag in his small hometown of Middletown, Connecticut; the daughter of a sharecropper, who made her way north during the great migration and becomes the North Star of the drive to transform health in the community; the son of a Jewish émigré and pharmacist who breaks from his peers to support the cause; the musician who played in the big bands of the South in the 1930’s, who loses his teeth and is now determined to make sure others do not lose theirs; and the college student and future US Senator who helps buy the building so the free clinic would not be shut down permanently. A young nurse-practitioner joins the organization as it expands beyond one Connecticut town, and today, CHC and its Weitzman Institute operate programs across the US, transforming the delivery of health care for populations who have been ignored. 

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Margaret With Patient

All proceeds from Peace & Health go to New Horizons Domestic Violence Services.

The story of the development of this community health center is awesome and inspiring. It is a striking example of individuals in a community recognizing an urgent need and working together to address that need. The Community Health Center exists today because of individuals who had a vision, and acted to fulfill it, exhibiting ingenuity, determination and persistence in overcoming many obstacles -- social, cultural and economic.Louis W. Sullivan, MD

President Emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine, and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 1989-1993

An antidote to modern cynicism. Charles Barber brilliantly tells the astonishing story of how an idea — healthcare as a right for all — can become a reality in one community. If you think it can’t be done, read this book!Danielle Ofri, MD

Author of When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error

Peace & Health reads like a novel but is all true: an inspiring story about community-based healthcare too easily ignored amidst medicine’s penchant for high-tech care.Joseph J. Fins, MD

Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics, Weill Cornell Medical College

In this affecting and expertly crafted book, Charles Barber tells the story of how a few inspired, resourceful, militantly decent people created from scratch an enduring institution that makes a lot of people’s lives better. A much-needed reminder of what we’re capable of at our best.Carlo Rotella, PhD

Professor of English, Boston College, and author of The World Is Always Coming to an End: Pulling Together and Apart in a Chicago Neighborhood

For those committed to community engagement, Peace & Health provides a deep wellspring of hope.Chyrell Bellamy, PhD

Director, Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health

More than a history of healthcare innovation, this book celebrates the passion that drives change in the world.Ian Roberts, MD

Professor of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

In Peace and Health, Charles Barber combines the artistry of a novelist and the skills of a reporter to introduce the founders, providers and patients that epitomize the spirit and enterprise of a great experiment that serves 30 million low-income Americans, portraying a critical element of the arc of justice that MLK spoke of 50 years ago.Michael Rowe

Author of Citizenship and Mental Health and Crossing the Border: Encounters between Homeless Persons and Outreach Workers

Peace & Health is an inspiring story that illustrates the power of vision, persistence, and community. Mark Masselli had none of the financial capital, academic credentials, work experience, or training that we assume are requirements for building a healthcare organization and yet he developed one of the most successful Federally Qualified Health Centers in the country.. Masselli’s ability to inspire supporters, engage partners, and overcome obstacles proved to more important than the traditional predictors of success. We can all learn from this remarkable story.Anthony M. Zipple, ScD, MBA

Executive in Residence, University of Louisville School of Public Health & Information Sciences