July 7, 2010
by Jodi Southerland
East Tennessee State University: College of Public Health
Organization: Of One Accord Inc, a local grassroots non profit organization, which provides vital services to disadvantaged community members in Hawkins and
Objectives: Provide supportive services to staff members, build lasting relationships with the community at large and ensure a brighter, more healthful tomorrow for local residents!
Background: Does poverty exist in a land of plenty? Do community members lack vital goods or services such as indoor plumbing, electricity, adequate nutrition and health services? To my dismay, I must answer ‘yes.’ Through my involvement with Of One Accord, interaction with community members and excursions into local communities on the rural roads less traveled, I have begun a journey which I hope will help me to understand more fully the roots of poverty and disadvantage in rural
Activities: Over the past seven weeks, I have been conducting wellness assessments among community dwelling seniors served by the agency. The purpose is two-fold: 1) develop a client profile which includes demographic data and risk factors that lead to diminished quality of life and poorer health outcomes, and; 2) identify domains in which the agency’s services can be improved or tailored to meet the needs of this population. I also provide health supportive services, education and referrals to seniors through the information provided during the assessments and through my personal observations.
These interactions have led to the development of relationships with some amazing members of our communities, namely, the senior population. The stories of triumph and heartache, grit and tenacity, hard work and determination are too numerous to tell. There is one prominent theme that resounds as these senior residents reminisce and remember yester year: wisdom and the will to live are often developed through hardship and in the face of adversity.
I am also responsible for coordinating activities for our summer volunteer groups. These activities are focused primarily on our older community members and include home repair/renovation projects, house keeping, gardening, hair cuts/perms and visitations. These activities are very hands on and provide volunteer groups with an opportunity to utilize their expertise and skills and improve the lives of our senior residents in real and tangible ways. The agency’s Community Nutrition Program has benefited greatly from the services provided by our volunteer groups. Members assist with food preparation and delivery of both senior meals and youth lunches (Lunch Box Mobile Cafeteria). Volunteers accompany me as I deliver daily meals and a monthly food box to our community-dwelling seniors.
Reflection: A picture is worth a thousand words! But stories are priceless. Ms. M is a 69-year-old single woman. She has lived in
What have I learned through my interaction with Ms. M and others like her? I have learned that making a positive impact in people’s lives is not as complicated as we may think. A little time, conversation and commitment can go a long way. People helping people, hand in hand along life’s journey! Impacting the world, one person at a time.