What Service Means to Me

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”  - Khalil Gibran

When I am asked about my idea of service and why I have decided to dedicate this part of my life in service to others, these words first penned by Lebanese poet and artist, Khalil Gibran, never fail to come to mind.  Though these words were published as recently as 1923, playing a key role in the Romantic movement in Arabic literature, they offer timeless wisdom and have resounded in the hearts of many throughout the world.  To give of myself to others through volunteering and service has been an important part of my upbringing and a greater part of my culture.  Growing up in the Philippines and being a part of a family that was active in the church, the culture of helpfulness permeated my life.  It was in my childhood that I learned the importance of being helpful to people in my community and how much it means to the people I am helping.

My childhood experiences instilled in me a spirit of volunteering that translated into my involvement in a number of service organizations throughout my academic life, and this ultimately led me to pursue a service term with the National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps Program. Having studied public health in college, I was greatly interested in the ways organizations come together to address public health issues and social determinants of health in their community.  My passion for helping others and my deep interest in public health have found an intersection in the National Health Corps (NHC).  This Program has given me the opportunity to serve within an organization addressing its community’s health needs and identifying social determinants of health to improve health outcomes.  Upon starting service with the National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps Program, I was introduced to my host-site: THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health addresses the social determinants of health of Northeast Florida through health access programs and health education.  THE PLAYERS Center is comprised of a dynamic team of compassionate people with whom I have the pleasure of spending my service term.  As a Care Coordinator, I have been able to further my passion for helping others by serving the diverse populations to which THE PLAYERS Center caters. I help immigrants and refugees navigate the Florida KidCare and Medicaid systems to secure health insurance. I have also had the great pleasure of teaching a health education curriculum to students in the Duval County Public School System that spans the topics of: hygiene, nutrition, health access, and sexual health and behavior.  My role has furthered my interest in public health by affording me the ability to learn about the health of Northeast Florida and the health disparities that community organizations strive to address.

While my myriad of experiences with the National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps Program have been a source of professional and personal enjoyment, it is not to say that it has been without challenge.  Moving to an unfamiliar city and putting the effort toward finding your place within it can prove to be a daunting endeavor, but I am extremely grateful for the support of my Corps.  The talented and intelligent individuals that make up the Corps continually inspire me to persevere in my service and to keep in mind my passion for people and my interest in learning more about the field of public health.  It is through them that I have found friends in a strange city and that I have been able to make fond memories.

Lastly, the importance of giving of yourself in service to others is not just defined by what you can do to help others, but the inevitable friendships and connections you will make with the people and the community around you.  It is through these friendships and connections that the experience becomes richer and more meaningful.  I have deep gratitude for where the National Health Corps Florida AmeriCorps Program has brought me, for the people I have been able to give myself to, and for the friendships I have been able to cultivate along the way.





This blog post was written by NHC FL AmeriCorps member, Jarvis Ramil.

Jarvis serves at THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health as a Care Coordinator.