National Health Corps (NHC) Florida members have the opportunity to serve in a number of roles, enabling them to enrich their local community in various ways. Upon entering the program, members begin within the specific position that they applied for, but we are not confined to strictly serving within that capacity. I serve as a Patient Navigator at River Region Human Services, meaning that my primary duties involve health education and social service navigation. Other members in other positions have roles and responsibilities that differ entirely from mine, but we often have overlapping community and demographic interests that allow for us to unite in our common goal: creating a healthier community in northeast Florida.
The NHC Florida program has the unique quality of stationing a large cohort at a variety of nonprofit organizations throughout North Florida. This quality provides incredible opportunities for collaboration between different host sites when common goals and target demographics align. A few weeks ago, River Region collaborated with the Sulzbacher Center, another host site to a number of NHC members, to provide free HIV testing to the people at Sulzbacher. In addition to testing, we raised awareness of the risk factors regarding HIV infections and provided information about prevention strategies. Sulzbacher provided the location, amenities, and incentives to get tested (free cookies, snacks, water, etc.), and River Region provided our mobile testing unit and fact sheets discussing HIV statistics to be distributed to those passing by. Through this joint effort that consolidated our resources, we managed to get over 40 people tested and we provided many more with information about how to stay healthy and avoid risky behaviors.
There are so many opportunities for collaboration throughout each service term. Each position within the NHC cohort can feel isolating at times, but there are almost invariably opportunities to reach out to other organizations and other members to facilitate collaborative events that further the NHC mission: to foster healthy communities by delivering and connecting those who need it most with health and wellness education, benefits and services, while developing tomorrow's compassionate health leaders.
This blog post was written NHC FL AmeriCorps member, Rob Janesewski.
Rob serves at River Region Human Services as a Case Manager.