Outside Service is a huge part of our service term with the National Health Corps (NHC). Serving the community through various other organizations (outside of our host site) is valuable because you get to know the community and the people you already serve so much better. At the beginning of my last AmeriCorps service term with City Year, I was brand new to Jacksonville, so I decided to volunteer with as many organizations as I could as often as possible in an attempt to get to know my new home. One of the organizations that stuck out to me the most during that time was Salvation Army - Towers Center of Hope Meal Ministry program. This program provides free meals to the community. The exposure I gained to the most vulnerable community members allowed me to see what problems were most prevalent in this community and to create relationships with a huge range of people. I serve with Salvation Army doing their Meal Ministry often, but recently, the impact of this service has deepened.
This year, while serving in the same community with NHC at The Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, I have continued regular service at the Meal Ministry program. Since I have been serving here for so long, many of the employees and community members have begun to remember me. While serving a couple months ago after my regular host site service, still wearing my Sulzbacher lanyard, a man approached me after dinner and asked if he could ask some questions about the Sulzbacher medical services and insurance. I was more than happy to oblige him because I am based in the clinic and do the patient eligibility there, so I figured I would be able to assist him. He brought me some eligibility documents and I explained what he needed to do to be a patient with us. Upon further investigation at my host site the next day, he had been a patient in the past but had recently missed countless appointments and had not picked up any of his medications for a long time. I took this as an opportunity to work with him in an attempt to help him get his health back on track and to encourage him to remain compliant with his medications. The next time I served at Meal Ministry, he was there and I helped him fill out our paperwork so that he could be seen in the clinic again and get back on his medications. Today he is being seen regularly and always picks up his medications on time!
I am so glad to have been able to give that patient a little push to prioritize his health and get back on track. This would not have been possible without getting out into the community and doing service outside of my host site. I encourage everyone to get out and volunteer somewhere in your community! You really never know what will come out of it or what impact you can have.
This blog post was written by NHC FL member Kelsey McKenna.
Kelsey serves at I.M. Sulzbacher Center as a Patient Navigator.