Each day when my alarm goes off the first thought that goes through my head is “I wish I could stay in bed all day,” but as soon as I step through the doors of the dental clinic I remember why I am there and why I wanted to become a National Health Corps AmeriCorps member. Serving the homeless population in Northeast Florida has been a life changing experience. In my service term I learned more about life, happiness, and healthcare than I could have imagined.
Everyday I sit down with an individual with a rough situation. Whether it is no money, no home, or both this person is extremely vulnerable. It takes a lot of courage for patients to sit down and explain their situations to a complete stranger, but everyday I have continued to be amazed. I can sit down with an individual that may seem to have nothing, but they are kind and happy individuals who just want someone to listen and help. Very often patients will look at me and say “I just need some help,” and knowing I can be the one that helped them when they felt they had nowhere to go is why I am NHC.
Being a National Health Corps member has allowed me to reach people in the community I would have never had the opportunity too. No matter how burnt out I feel, how tired I am, or how difficult service may get watching patients’ faces light up as I tell them they are eligible to receive services at the Sulzbacher Dental Clinic makes it all worth it. I see frowns turn into smiles, tears of pain turn into tears of joy, and genuine gratitude each day. This is why I am NHC.
I am NHC because I know at the end of my service term people’s lives have been changed for the better. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities the National Health Corps AmeriCorps Program has given me. Each lesson I have learned throughout the service term will be applied to all of my future endeavors and my life. I am proud to be NHC.
This blog post was written by NHC FL AmeriCorps member Kaitlyn Gallagher
Kaitlyn serves at I.M. Sulzbacher Center as a Patient Navigator.