It is an unassuming property with its few buildings, rows of fencing, sprinkled with a few cars here and there. Upon first glance, you would not know what Gateway Community Services is or, for that matter, know exactly what they provide for the community by just reading their sign. Little do people know that Gateway Community Services is a last resort for many seeking treatment for various addictions, and, exactly like its name, it serves as a gateway to recovery. This is my first experience with addiction treatment, and seeing it play out over the course of the past two weeks has shown me that it takes a whole host of differing roles working together to care for each individual client, similar to a beehive. At Gateway Community Services, you can find a plethora of seasoned medical professionals, but you can also find experienced social workers, counselors, and peers to help clients on their journey to recovery. Like a beehive, everyone is working together!
Through the National Health Corps Florida’s pre-service orientation, I was able to gain more information about atypical public health career paths and learn from guest speakers who have been in this line of work for years. However, the most fascinating thing I realized during this period was how well versed all of these professionals were with different organizations and readily available resources around Northeast Florida. Everyone seemed to be connected, and I was excited to see where I fit into the picture as a Patient Navigator at Gateway Community Services.
When I began my service term at Gateway, one of the first tasks my partner, John, and I were assigned was to begin searching for free mobile health screenings that would be available to all clients during a one-day event to take place at our host site. We instantly thought of our fellow National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps members scattered across the city serving in non-profit public health organizations. We wanted to know if their host sites provided mobile health screenings. Luckily, we were able to contact a fellow corps member at Jacksonville Speech and Hearing, and they offered to assist us in providing free hearing screenings for clients and their children.
The Esprit de Corps, or morale of our program, makes serving alongside twenty-five other service members that much more rewarding when we come together to successfully serve our clients no matter how monumental or minor the task is. My partner and I were able to use our connections within our program to help make a small difference at Gateway on the first day. Over the course of this service term, National Health Corps Florida members can make a larger impact on the greater community of Jacksonville when we collectively share the same devotion and enthusiasm for serving others. I like to think of this as a honeycomb effect, which brings me back to my recurring theme: we are all connected.