By Anastasia Sonneman, Program Specialist, NACHC-Community HealthCorps
“AmeriCorps Week embodies the collaborative and ‘getting things done’ spirit of national service, while highlighting the diverse reach and impact of AmeriCorps members in areas of health, education, environment, and so much more.”
Community HealthCorps National Director, Gerrard Jolly, reflects on another successful AmeriCorps Week that brought together all 535 Community HealthCorps members with other AmeriCorps programs and local organizations in an effort to spotlight the collective power of national service. Community HealthCorps teams across the country accepted the call to demonstrate how AmeriCorps Works with a particular focus on building healthier
communities. In fact, over half of the thirty-eight Community HealthCorps teams celebrated by planning at least two or more service and/or recruitment events throughout the week.
Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps Week projects ranged from facilitating free blood pressure screenings to providing oral health education to battling food and housing insecurity by partnering with other great AmeriCorps programs like FoodCorps, Civic Works, and Habitat for Humanity. Together, Community HealthCorps teams built and/or repaired seven homes, improved or created five green spaces, and led twelve health fairs. They also collected over a thousand items of clothing, food, and sanitary items, as well as provided free health screenings and health education to over 1,000 individuals – including older adults, youth, veterans, and migrant farmworkers – all while partnering with over forty community-based organizations.
Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps members serving with Lifelong Medical Care in Berkeley, California hosted five different AmeriCorps Week events, each directly tied to building healthier communities where they serve. The team kicked off the week by hosting a health fair at a local park, beautifying one of LifeLong’s new Community Health Centers and building a “little free library” at another LifeLong location. They also partnered with Habitat for Humanity to create healthier and safer homes for low-income older adults. Wajihah Bhatti, summed up her team’s week while taking over the national Community HealthCorps Instagram to capture one of their service days in real time:
“To me, being a Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps member means working towards establishing health equity in communities that we care about.”
Across the country, the White House Clinics team in Richmond, Kentucky also generated tremendous impact throughout AmeriCorps Week. As one of the newest Community HealthCorps teams, their AmeriCorps members accomplished quite the undertaking of hosting four events focusing on physical activity, provider recognition, dental hygiene, national service, and healthy eating throughout four different White House health center locations. The team also addressed food insecurity as a key social determinant of health by partnering with a local food pantry to sort and package food donations benefiting local community members in need. Sarah LeBrun shares a meaningful moment during one of her team’s projects:
“On Thursday, we had patients write a note to their providers, saying “thank you” for all they do for them. It was a slow start to the day; people weren’t used to having strangers ask them to do something extra after their visit at the clinic. But they quickly caught on. As one patient spoke with us, she was brought to tears while talking about how much White House Clinics has helped her and her daughter. She said, ‘They don’t even know how much they have helped me, and they don’t even know what all is going on in my life. But they have helped me so much.’ Although this is a small sample of the impact that Community Health Centers and White House Clinics have on our population, her words show just how much we can help even one person’s life. I feel lucky to be a part of such a great organization through my service with Community HealthCorps.”
This year’s AmeriCorps Week was truly eventful and impactful for Community HealthCorps, allowing the program’s current AmeriCorps members and alumni to benefit their communities, while also spreading the word about national service as an effective solution to the nation’s most critical social issues.
See more AmeriCorps Week action from Community HealthCorps teams across the country by checking out our #AmeriCorpsWorks Storify.