With this month dedicated to women’s heart health, Maureen Hillary believes it’s important to have the awareness out there. “Women especially need to know they’re susceptible to heart disease, the greatest killer of women,” Hillary said. “Women keep taking care of everybody but themselves, but they (should) not forget their own needs.” Hillary is the chief nursing officer at Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital in Charlotte. She also serves as the committee chairperson for the Healthy Lifestyle Committee (HLC) of the Capital Area Health Alliance. The goal of HLC is to bring together people in the community to focus on projects pertaining to health and prevention initiatives. “We bring together folks who otherwise might not work together — hospitals, health departments, schools and community members,” Hillary said. HLC has been around for 10 years. Part of Hillary’s role at the hospital is community health and wellness screening, so HLC felt like a perfect fit. There are events planned for the new year including an initiative called Choosing Health. “It’s about bringing additional information on how to make healthy choices.” Hillary said. “We’re not going to replicate what’s out there but we connect people to those options such as community walking events, healthy cooking and exercise outlets.” Last month marked the start of another initiative called Winter Warm-Up, a program held through a partnership with Community Partners in Health. It’s a weekly walking program that offers opportunities to get information and education on community walks at indoor sites like malls, Hillary explained. “There’ll be some healthy competition and informational activities throughout the eight-week period,” Hillary said. HLC is also about more than just the program it puts on. It’s about connecting people to healthy life options. “There are so many things going on people don’t know about,” Hillary said. “We bring them together, and they find out how to join a walking group at no expense. We also offer free talks on nutrition.” Hillary mostly wants people to know that it’s never too late to become part of a healthy lifestyle. “You can add steps to your daily routine, make a choice between a high-sugar option and a healthier option — those things have a huge impact and will incrementally get you where you want to go,” she said.