HealthCorps members placed through this project are a valuable auxiliary to the health service network. Members reach out to medically underserved communities to provide much-needed services to patients now not being served, as well as ensure follow up on treatment plans and promote preventive health practices among new and existing patients.
HealthCorps members include individuals receiving public assistance, unemployed persons, college graduates, high school graduates, and those who have not yet completed high school but would like to continue their education. Health and social service professionals are sought as well. All members have a strong desire to give a year of service to health center patients and communities.
HealthCorps members, many of whom come from the communities served by the participating health centers, also benefit from the program. By providing outreach and support services for low-income families served by community, migrant, and homeless health centers, members are exposed to a range of health career roles dedicated to improving the health status of hard-to-reach populations.
Community HealthCorps members perform much needed outreach, support services, follow-up, and other functions designed to improve access to preventive and primary health care and improve the health of all family members.
Adam Golden; Suffern, New York; Patient Services Associate for the Center for Child Health and Resiliency at the South Bronx Center for Children and Families
As a Patient Services Associate at the Center for Child Health and Resiliency, Adam is part of a comprehensive health care delivery team. He conducts health education and outreach activities, participates in quality improvement efforts and improves the utilization of health center and community services.
Though Adam’s position places a lot of responsibilities on him, he is also allowed to pursue his own ideas at his site. "Your site will give you work to pursue; however, the most rewarding thing you can do is create your own ideas and innovations or ask to take on more responsibility," Adam said.
"Through my HIV support group, I have met multiple patients who have had the virus since the early 1980s, the onset of its discovery, and who even today, twenty years later, speak out on behalf of the HIV positive population for awareness and to demonstrate hope with the virus," Adam said.
Meeting with these people regularly and hearing their stories has educated Adam in the field of HIV medicine and inspired him to continue his service.
In his free time, Adam enjoys spending time with friends whether it be going to museums, watching sporting events, seeing live music or playing sports.
After finishing his term of service, Adam plans to attend medical school to pursue his MD and possibly his MPH. Eventually, he’d like to make his way to Chile to snowboard the Andes Mountains.
Alana Lopez; Aguadilla, Puerto Rico/ Lower Manhattan; Health Educator at Callen-Lorde Community Health Centre's HOTT Program in Manhattan
Alana Lopez says that service is "the right thing to do and nothing feels better than knowing that the work you enjoy doing is helping others."
As the Health Educator at Callen-Lorde's HOTT program, Alana serves by doing individual counseling sessions on birth control, safer sex, STI/HIV prevention and treatment, and nutrition. She also co-facilitates the Youth Advisory Board and supervises the board's Health Education working group. Additionally, she does outreach and risk reduction counseling to street-based youth from the clinic's mobile unit.
What makes Alana a perfect fit for her position is that "I'm a good non-judgmental listener; I have a sincere passion for sex education and I can relate to adolescents, "she said. "Plus, I rock fresh kicks - No, seriously, a few of the close relationships I've developed with patients stemmed from compliments on my sneakers."
In her free time, Alana reads fantasy/sci-fi; takes naps; obsesses over the Mets; watches the History Channel, BBC America and Investigation Discovery; and dances at the dope spot.
In the future, Alana would love to go to the Hebrides Islands of Scotland. "It looks like something right out of Middle Earth," she said.
For additional opportunities, Alana recommends checking out http://www.rockdovecollective.org/ to find a radical community health exchange working to address the need for accessible and anti-oppressive health care in our communities.
Angie Woody; Johnstown, PA; Spanish Translator/ Preventative Health Coordinator at Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center in Newburgh, NY
"Early in life, my mother and grandmother taught me the importance of community involvement and servitude by encouraging my participation in our church and its varied volunteer efforts," said Angie Woody of Johnstown, Pa. "Though my inspiration to serve, my cause and community have changed throughout the years, I've always retained my dedication to volunteerism."
As a Spanish Translator/Preventative Health Coordinator at Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center in Newburgh, NY, Angie translates in visits with various primary and specialty-care providers, teaches Tobacco Cessation classes and assists in the development of the center's new Reach Out and Read program. By the end of her service, she will teach a Spanish-language Chronic Disease Self-Management Program and a bilingual Diabetes Self-Management program.
For the Spanish-speaking patients at the health center, Angie and her partner, Jenny Lopez, are seen as a source of information, understanding, and assistance. "Though the affection and appreciation our patients show me is continually gratifying, what means the most is their look of understanding and knowledge of their next step when they walk out the door," Angie said.
In addition to her service at GHVFHC, Angie works as a Program Assistant for the weekly Youth Development Program at the Newburgh YMCA. In her leisure, Angie teaches her roommate how to cook vegan cuisine, knits, attends hardcore shows in the city, writes for a friend's zine, takes Zumba or yoga classes and attends Second Saturday gallery crawls in Beacon.
In the future, Angie looks forward to volunteering another year through CHCANYS or another AmeriCorps program, before attending graduate school for bilingual education or enrolling in a teaching fellowship program.
Christopher Knapp; Saint Paul, MN; Program Assistant, Ryan White Part-C Program at the Hudson Headwaters Health Network in Glens Falls, NY
As a Program Assistant at the Ryan White Part-C Program at Hudson Headwaters Health Network in Glens Falls, Chris plays an integral role in Ryan White’s promise to provide high quality HIV primary health care services and support for people living with HIV in an underserved and rural community.
His most motivational experience in the program has been watching patient advocates, whom he helped train, speaking to classrooms and recovery groups, recounting their stories as HIV positive people.
Chris is no stranger to volunteering in a rural and underserved population, having volunteered for nearly two years in West Africa through Peace Corps. In fact, Chris often delights in the perks of small town life.
"It is a benefit of living in a small town that you often have the street to yourself at night. I use those moments to work on my Al Green impression, which isn’t the greatest," Chris said.
After three years of service, Chris is ready to hit the books once again. "It is time for me to go back to school, recharge my batteries and get a new perspective, though my experiences throughout this time have been priceless," Knapp said.
Knapp will be returning to Minnesota to get his MD, singing all the way through. "I sing, in choirs and walking down the streets when no one is listening, or at least I think no one is listening," Knapp said.
Linda Li; Carrboro, North Carolina; Patient Services Associate at the South Bronx Health Center for Children and Families
Linda heard her call to activism when politically-driven music drew her attention to the inequalities that many communities face. She serves at The South Bronx Health Center for Children and Families, a unique, family-centered community health center serving low-income families in one of the nations' most underserved, at-risk communities, mostly in aiding low-income pregnant women and mothers through a Prenatal Group and a Baby Group.
"I serve because I’m sick of hearing about global inequalities and complaining about injustice; I want to DO something to improve the world we live in. I serve to help make a change," Li said.
If she were to serve again, Linda would want more creative freedom than that offered at a health center. Linda is considering staying in the city to bartend or to work a part-time position which allows her to experience more of NYC.
While living in Guatemala for 3.5 months, Li bartended at Monoloco, one of the most popular bars in the old capital of Antigua. "I was living from paycheck to paycheck, but was also having the most incredible experience volunteering and taking Spanish lessons on the side. Not to mention all the friends I made there have really inspired me to look at life from a different perspective," she said.
Could she travel to her current dream destination, you would find Linda in a Tahitian hut raised above water, quite different from her normal style of backpacking and hostel stays.
Daniela Zyskowski; Zaragoza, Spain; Nutrition Health Educator at Urban Health Plan in the South Bronx
"For many years I researched, debated, and complained about all the hardships faced in the world and how incredible it is that so many have been left behind in FIRST world countries, not to mention third world countries," said Daniela. "I decided it was time to do something about it; I really wanted to engage and learn about underserved communities, like the one I am currently serving in as a nutrition educator at Urban Health Plan."
At UHP, Daniela provides nutrition education through waiting room presentations, food demonstrations, and assisting in the Diabetes Self Management Education classes. Additionally, she provides telephone patient support and compiles data reports to show the results of outreach to patients and is helping with the Diabetes Expo that will take place in July.
One of the most motivating experiences at her job site was the Food Drive 2011 that she led right before the winter holidays. It was a wonderful feeling to give back to the community and raise funds and receive canned goods not only from UHP associates but patients as well.
"The biggest motivation that has kept me passionate about the AmeriCorps experience is my AmeriCorps group. They are my support system and if it weren’t for them, this experience would be completely different and not as meaningful. I’m surrounded by some of the most intelligent and intellectual beings I have ever met."
After AmeriCorps, Daniela will remain at UHP working as a full time associate, with a future goal of having a career that involves traveling and the international political scene. Her dream job would be to work as a comedian, because she would earn enough money to travel the world and volunteer at numerous orphanages, while making people laugh at the same time.
Deborah Ojeda; Rockledge, Florida; Depression Case Manager at Urban Health Plan in the South Bronx
"I complained, talked about the social injustices," said Debbie, "I wanted to be part of helping the underserved instead of just talking about it."
As a Depression Case Manager at Urban Health Plan, Debbie is helping the underserved in the Bronx and Queens by proactively screening adult patients for depression, providing evidence-based treatment, follow-up screening, case management and telephone support. Additionally, she works with the patients' primary care provider to develop a care plan to reduce the level of depression in patients and to provides education, supportive counseling and internal and external referrals based on screening results.
What has inspired Debbie most throughout her service has been helping patients connect to resources and promoting empowerment with the patients.
In her free time, Debbie enjoys hanging out with friends or having political conversations with her cat, Marley. In addition to their chats, Marley also enjoys drinking tea with Deborah.
After this year of service, Debbie plans to find a job or to rejoin CHCANYS HealthCorps for another year. She has enjoyed her experience and has loved learning from her patients. "It's been very eye-opening, though I don't think that I am ready to say good-bye to AmeriCorps," Debbie said. "I haven't decided what to do next, but I would like to be a professor and community researcher."
Debbie's travel aspirations are endless, including visits to Canada and Asian, European and African countries. "I would like to explore South American jungles, to live among tribes," Debbie said.
Elizabeth Sarah Abbs; Madison, Wisconsin; Geriatric Case Manager at Urban Health Plan in the South Bronx
Elizabeth embodies the philosophy that "community is the answer to all of our societal problems." As a Geriatric Case Manager at Urban Health Plan, Elizabeth works against the individualistic plight present in our county, and toward her desire for the implementation of more cooperative, communal efforts.
At UHP, Elizabeth performs annual assessments for dementia, fall risk, depression, and social services needs for the South Bronx's geriatric population. "To sit with a patient, engaged, and actively dissecting the challenges of which they face: lack of money for food, housing stresses, psychological distress, or the mere inability to care for oneself due to physical or mental degeneration is absolutely encouraging," Elizabeth said. She is motivated by the overt comprehension that her work is benefitting the lives and overall welfare of another being. "To be the means by which a patient can enjoy a safer, more peaceful life-world by simply drafting a letter, placing a few phone calls, or lending an ear is an inexplicable pleasure," she added.
For Elizabeth, serving as an HealthCorps member in the South Bronx has enabled her to provide a higher quality of life to her delicate population, despite the vast challenges presented through our current healthcare system and evident lack of resources.
Serving in this way has ultimately better prepared her to embrace a career in medicine in the near future. "Next year, after this critical period of service, I will head back to the quiet, tight courters of the library to begin my medical education in aims to serve as a primary care physician," Elizabeth said. "Among many principles, my HealthCorps service year has underlined the necessity of culturally competent, preventative health care services - for all populations."
In her spare time, Elizabeth dreams of food and food-related efforts, as for her the heart and stomach are closely connected. The contents and way we prepare and share food can be one of the most intimate and sincere of exchanges, she said.
It is also widely known that Elizabeth can pick up large objects with her toes.
Jenny Lopez; Brentwood, NY; Spanish Translator/ Preventative Health Coordinator at The Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center in Newburgh, NY
"Humanity is the quality of being humane, kind and compassionate," said Jenny. She believes that if she is not doing anything serving those in need, whether it's through service or not, then time is being wasted.
As a Spanish Translator and Preventative Health Coordinator at the Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center in Newburgh, NY, Jenny's aspiration to serve is continually renewed as she daily sees the needs and sufferings of our communities and feels a deep yearning to do whatever she can to make a positive impact.
Jenny chose AmeriCorps because of this reason: "we are a team sharing the same passion, dedication, and determination to make a difference in the world!"
For Jenny, this year has been full of motivating experiences and encounters; "I cannot and will not leave any single one out," she said. From translating between patients and doctors to educating parents, children and also informing other members of the community about life-changing health decisions, her service has built a passion within her to do whatever she can to contribute and improve health care.
As for the fuure, Jenny wants to continue to contribute to positive changes and impact communities. Next year, she hopes to join the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in their Public Health Associate Program.
Kristin K; Prenatal Health Educator at the Women’s Health & Birthing Pavilion at Morris Heights Health Center in the Bronx
As a Prenatal Health Educator at the Women’s Health and Birthing Pavilion at Morris Heights Health Center, Kristin works at one of the only free-standing birthing centers in NYC, serving the local diverse community, providing the informational resources, creating a rapport with patients, and witnessing the miracle of birth.
"I have been given the privilege and opportunity of a healthy life and environment, and I want to be able to share it with others," Kristin said of her aspiration to service. Kristin feels this service has assured that her niche is in maternal and child healthcare.
Currently, Kristin spends her free time outdoors, exploring New York. She’s considering short-term positions working in another field, for example: environmental conservation. Kristin isn’t yet certain about her plans for next year, and doesn’t feel that she is ready for grad school at this time.
Kristin hopes to be "a ski bum one of these winters, especially since I’ve been deprived of snow this year."
Laura Sandall; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Mobile Patient Services Associate at New York Children’s Health Project in the South Bronx
"I learned from my sister and the way that she lived her life that kindness can go a long way," said Laura, "I really try to strive to be a kind person to everyone I meet. Whether it is my co-workers, my AmeriCorps friends, or the kids that I work with in the after school programs, I want them to know that I care about them."
As a Mobile Patients Associate at New York Children’s Health Project, Laura spreads kindness by ensuring that children in high-risk populations have access to specialty care. For Sandall, a particularly fulfilling component of this is teaching nutrition to the kids in homeless shelters at the after school programs.
"To be able to see their excitement during the lessons is inspiring but also to be able to give them a healthy, nutritional snack when they might not have had that option is very motivating," Laura said. "They have been through so much, so to have that couple of hours where we teach them and they are able to have some fun makes it very rewarding."
In addition to being a professional volunteer, Laura is an expert at creating awkward dance moves to try out at bars. In her spare time, she also enjoys playing soccer, napping, writing, obsessing over golden retrievers, and hanging out with friends.
Previous to volunteering through CHCANYS, Laura volunteered in Turkey working with turtles. Laura plans to volunteer abroad again before she starts graduate school in Fall 2013, this time with a health organization. She would also love to travel before graduate school and perhaps, revisit Turkey. Laura recalls a town called Cappadocia, made entirely of rock houses, cliff dwellings and rock-cut temples worthy of revisiting.
Laura Sloan; Park Ridge, New Jersey; Health Educator at Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health Center in Albany, NY
As a Health Educator at Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health Center in Albany, Laura assists the HIV Services Department and the Pediatric Asthma Coalition of the Capital Region in providing affordable, accessible, and high-quality medical care to those who need it, regardless of income or insurance status.
It was through her position that Laura shadowed an HIV/AIDS specialist for a day. . "This experience has motivated me to work towards a career as an infectious disease specialist," Laura said. "Shadowing him also helped me realize how I am part of the system that allows him to provide excellent care to so many patients. It motivated me to know that my job mattered," she said.
Next year, Laura would like to continue working with people living with HIV/AIDS and to keep doing HIV testing. "After that, I’m planning on going to medical school," Laura said.
"Albany is certainly no New York City, but I have been more than pleasantly surprised," Laura said, "I love going to my favorite Thai and Pakistani restaurants on a regular basis." In addition, Laura reads, goes the gym, eats out with friends and taunts her cat with a laser pointer.
In addition to her service, Laura volunteers at the Damien Center, a community center for individuals and families living with or affected by HIV/AIDS (http://www.albanydamiencenter.org/).
Prior to her service, Laura spent two weeks on a research trip in Costa Rica and worked for just under a week at the Sirena Ranger Station in Corcovado National Park. "We took an hour-long boat ride from a tiny town. Tourists could only come by a propeller plane that landed on the airstrip. It was so remote that I got to see crocodiles, poisonous snakes, monkeys, tapirs, macaws, and even an ocelot in the wild," she said.
Lynchy Lezeau; Haiti/New York; Asthma Health Educator and Camp Coordinator at Montefiore School Health Program in the Bronx
Just like many current and previous members of CHCANYS Community HealthCorps, this year of service has helped Lynchy Lezeau, a Haitian who immigrated to New York 10 years ago, commit to an MD/MPH program.
As an Asthma Health Educator and Camp Coordinator at Montefiore School Health Program, Lezeau puts his impeccable organizational skills to work at several elementary and middle schools in the Bronx to provide family and student asthma education and to give those families the opportunity to send their children to summer camp.
"During a graduation celebration for one of my Open Airways for Schools classes, a student performed a song and called me the best asthma teacher ever. Then, he suggested that I turn the class into a club so that we can meet for the rest of the year," Lezeau said.
At another celebration, a parent opened up to Lynchy about her struggle to quit smoking, her son’s worst trigger. "I was able to counsel her and convince her to take some healthy measures that will be beneficial to her as well as her son," he said.
Though his position doesn't allow him copious free time; he likes to spend it having fun with family and traveling. "I love traveling, so I have a few trips in my bucket list, including India, Egypt and Brazil."
Though he would be interested in serving again, Lezeau says that it is time for him to start medical school, after a month-long vacation.
Malaika Borni; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; School-Based Health Educator at Morris Heights Health Center in the Bronx
As a School-Based Health Educator at Morris Heights Health Center, Malaika Borni of Philadelphia, PA, is providing teens with reproductive health education that addresses all areas of sexuality, not only working to address the issue of teen pregnancy in the Bronx, which has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the city.
"Whether it’s a young girl who doesn’t want to become pregnant or a boy who found out he was negative for an STI, my students are really what drives me to keep trekking to work day after day," Malaika said. "I love being able to help provide services that are so vital and yet can be so difficult to access. Really, at the end of the day, I feel extremely satisfied with the work I do," she added.
Malaika tries to spend any free time with friends;"I really value the relationships that I’ve made with other people and you can catch me traveling back to Philly to spend time with old friends or meeting up with my New York friends at a dive bar or a trashy hipster show."
However, when feeling anti-social Malaika loves to curl up with a good book and snuggle with her cat.
"I find my life and my job as an AmeriCorps volunteer extremely fulfilling, and I’m not ready to give that up yet," Malaika said. In fact, Malaika is currently planning serving another year either in her position or as a Health Educator for the LGBTQ population at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.
ia Ragozino; Tamarac, Florida; Reproductive Health Educator at Urban Health Plan's School Based Health Center
Not many volunteers would admit that their desire to serve is selfish, but Mia 'fessed up.
"Serving the community makes me feel better about myself and helps me interact with people who maintain similar ideas about the small ways we can help bring about change." Thus, Mia's commitment to service often extends long into her leisure. Independent service project hours allow Mia to count extra volunteer opportunities toward the CHCANYS program, although she would participate regardless.
"Facing the problems of the inner city is draining, and having the ability to stick with it and give it your all, regardless of the emotional and physical toll it takes, is really important," Mia said.
After such a strenuous year of volunteership, Mia plans to break free of the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and "travel until her bones deteriorate." Though her exact travel plans aren't definite, Mia gave mention to the beautiful San Cristobal, Mexico.
For outside involvement, Mia would suggest checking out these sites:
"[THE POINT Community Development Corporation] is a phenomenal organization that offers after-school classes like photography, circus, karate, and a women’s empowerment group (http://thepoint.org/)."
Sadia Mobeen; Brooklyn, NY; Patient Service Associate at Whitney M. Young Jr. Health Center in Albany, NY
"In college I took a lot of women's studies classes where we discussed race, class, sex, racism, healthcare, and poverty, I wanted to see firsthand what I was learning in my classes,"
As a Patient Services Associate at Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health Center in Albany, NY, Sadia has been able to use her compassion, capacity for hard work and ability to multi-task to assist patients. In addition to strengthening existing skills and traits, the experience taught her how to build a rapport with patients.
"At first, I was really good and quick at doing paperwork, but I was nervous when speaking to patients," said Sadia. "After time, I found my own style and it got easier and easier to speak to patients. Now, I feel like I am a pro at it."
"The patients are great; they really make the experience worthwhile," said Sadia. She delighted in the insider's perspective she was given at the center, noting, "you get to do and see a lot of cool stuff" through service.
During her free time, Sadia loves to cook, shop and watch television, most especially soap operas. In the future, she would love to travel to Paris and to visit the Palace of Versailles.
Before attending medical school, Sadia plans to take another year off.
Shanelly Singh; Brooklyn, New York; Nutrition Health Educator and Fit for Life Instructor at Urban Health Plan in the South Bronx
"I aspire to serve because I believe it’s the fundamental ‘food’ for human spiritual growth," said Shanelly "Without demonstrating care for each other the world would be in shambles."
As a Nutrition Health Educator and Fit for Life Instructor at Urban Health Plan, Shanelly works toward the Urban Health Plan mission to improve the health status of underserved communities by providing affordable, comprehensive, and high quality primary and specialty medical care. Though Shanelly realizes it is not always easy to do so, she loves to help others. It is with her great strength, resiliency, and capacity for love that she does just this.
"In my position, patients do not always want to hear what I have to say. It is out of care for their children’s well-being, and so I continue to do it every day," Shanelly said. In service, one is faced with a variety of challenges; overcoming those challenges builds mounds of character, she said.
Shanelly spends her free time caring for her 3-year-old son, and loves to go out to try new food. After her year of service, she plans to apply to medical school.
When asked about dream travel destination, Shanelly said she would love to go back in time to visit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. She added, "Realistically, I would love to travel to South India."
Song Kim; New York, NY; School-Based Health Educator at Morris Heights Health Center in the Bronx
On her decision to serve in the healthcare sector, Song speaks briefly of her experience working in non-profit and legal sectors working with transnational sex workers. "These women didn’t care terribly about legal claims and immigrant status, but their physical well-being, of course, it mattered the most."
She also credits her childhood spent in Korea on realizing the importance of a health-conscious lifestyle. "I grew up eating all sorts of weird veggie dishes and eventually somehow liking them. Also with my dad as a doctor, I was so blessed to have realized the value of physical health early on," says Song. From these experiences, Song strongly believes that "physical health is a precursor and prerequisite to other kinds of wellness."
In her position as a School-Based Health Educator at Morris Heights Health Center, she strives to give back to immigrant youngsters who are less privileged than she had been, by teaching them how to properly take care themselves first before taking care of others and the community.
As an educator, Song conducts one-on-one counseling sessions with pre-diabetic and asthmatic teenagers, runs lunch focus groups with students and parents alike. "Kids really do say the darnedest things! It’s refreshing to listen to them say whatever may be on their mind - stray thoughts, silly observations," she sighs, "I grew up too fast."
Song additionally volunteers with Daniel’s Music Foundation, an incredible non-profit group where she is "able to share my love of music with budding musicians overcoming their disabilities (http://www.danielsmusic.org/)."
Outside of volunteerism, Song keeps active in the city by training for her first half-marathon in Central Park. To be in touch with her creative side, she collects jazz mp3s, attempts to improvise some herself and frequents jazz bars. Of course, as much as she loves to teach her kids about eating, she too loves food, and experiments with minimalist recipes in her kitchen.
After this year of service, Song plans to work as a healthcare professional.
Vera Hendrix; Forest Hills, NY; Pediatric Health Educator at Morris Heights Health Center in the Bronx "Growing up as a first generation American to two immigrant parents I saw first-hand how difficult it is to come to a new country without much. This is why I volunteer, why I intern, and why I do AmeriCorps... so that I can give back to my community and to others that are either struggling, underserved, or just need a little bit of help," As a Pediatric Health Educator at Morris Heights Health Center, Vera serves with two foci: the first focus comprised of nutrition, physical activity and childhood obesity; the second focus comprised of sexual and reproductive health. "When I took this AmeriCorps position I didn’t necessarily think I could change the world, but I knew I could affect individual lives in a positive way and so I serve. I hope to continue to serve in the future," she said. Vera shared two occasions when she was able to see the positive change she directly affected. At a Teen Night at the Adolescent Clinic, Vera had a particularly memorable experience after performing a sugary beverage demonstration for a group of younger children (ages 5-12). "What really made me smile that night is that one boy started to teach his peers what I had taught him earlier in the evening. As new children came he would show them how to read nutrition labels and calculate the amount of sugar in a beverage," Vera said. The boy even translated what she'd said into Spanish. During another Teen Night, Vera was giving a presentation on STIs and HIV/AIDS to three teenagers, two of whom were sexually active and had never been tested. She was able to answer many of their questions, especially those of one inquisitive and interested teenage girl. "In the end, all three of the teenagers decided to get tested on the spot at Morris Heights Health Center," Vera said. Additionally, Vera volunteers with New York Cares, the city's largest volunteer organization which runs volunteer programs for 1,200 nonprofits, city agencies and public schools (newyorkcares.org). When she has free time, Vera enjoys finding new, cheap places to eat in the city, running half-marathons, hiking and snowboarding, as well as watching documentaries and funny viral videos on YouTube. Vera's list of future travels is extensive, including ventures to Tulum, Mexico, Croatia, Greece, France, Italy, London, Ukraine/Russia, Taiwan, India, Thailand and Fiji.
Winifred MacQuaye; Ghana, West Africa; Community Health Outreach Worker at Bronx Community Health Network Inc.
"My passion for service comes from personal experiences and the tiredness of watching my fellow man suffer and the knowledge that the average man is not making use or does not know how to use the resources made available to them."
As the Community Health Outreach Worker at the Bronx Community Health Network, Winifred educates community members about the services provided by BCHN sites and assist them in accessing services, develops and implements community and on-line marketing and social media initiatives that focus on children and adults living with preventable illness and chronic disease. She also develops and implements health-related modules to be presented to community and faith-based organizations as well as for presentation via social networking media.
"Working with BCHN has enlightened me about various opportunities in the US health system which can be easily applicable anywhere: the various mishaps, amendments, and continuous growth of modules to enhance individual social and health well-being," Winifred said. Her most motivating experience this year has been the sense of satisfaction she gets from helping someone during encounters at health fairs, over the phone or helping with a presentation.
In her spare time, Winifred delights in relaxing on her couch at home, listening to classical music or reggae, or reading. Having visited Victoria Falls (located in southern Africa on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe) when she was 7, Winifred misses the sounds of falling water, and the quietness and serene nature of the environment.
Winifred’s current position has completely altered her focus of career choice or path, but she plans to incorporate her experience into her career of choice when the need arises. After AmeriCorps, she plans to serve a second-term at her current site or another before continuing her education. Currently, Winifred is volunteering only at her site, but would love to work or volunteer with the New York Coalition Against Hunger (http://www.nyccah.org/) or the New York Immigration Coalition (http://www.thenyic.org/).
Yesenia Murillo; Costa Rica; Puberty & Reproductive Health Educator at the Montefiore School Health Program in the Bronx
"I believe that if given equal opportunities and resources, disenfranchised populations would be able to get ahead and succeed," said Yesenia. Growing up and beyond, Yesenia has seen first-hand individuals who thrived when given the necessary resources and assistance. As a Puberty and Reproductive Health Educator at the Montefiore School Health Program, she gives herself as a resource to this population. "Additionally, I love the fulfillment I get when I help others. These are some of the reasons why I have made it an ambition of mine to help the underserved," she said.
At MSHP, Yesenia provides education on human sexuality, supporting the program's Reproductive and Sexual Health priority service area through classroom-based and clinic-based health education. The school system can often be hard to maneuver, especially when attempting to enter the school as a guest, according to Yesenia. "Having good interpersonal skills allows me to build relationships with school administrators and staff, creating an easier and more trusting entry into their school," she added.
This is Yesenia's second year as an AmeriCorps member. From 2010 to 2011, Yesenia worked with juvenile delinquents at a reintegration program in Minneapolis, Minnesota called Radius, a 12-15 week-long, two-hour-a-week workshop for female juvenile delinquents ranging from ages 12 to 18. Workshop topics included: healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, self-esteem, conflict resolution, anger management, restorative justice, and art and creative expression.
"This was an extremely rewarding experience; so much that this population (juvenile delinquents) is one I plan on focusing my energy on in the future," Yesenia said.
Who are you?Wendy Navarro, 24 years old
Where are you from?Born in Dominican Republic, raised in New York City
What made you want to work in the health discipline? I always liked the health field, my major is public health. I like to help people and promote health.
What health center do you work at? What is your position? I work at Urban Health Plan, El Nuevo San Juan. My position is Health Educator. I do one on one consultations and I do presentations in the waiting room.
What's a rewarding/memorable experience that took place at your site? A rewarding experience was taking people to the Farmers Market, we took about 20 people in one day, it was a good experience helping people in need.
What do you plan on doing after AmeriCorps? After Americorps I plan on pursuing my master in public health, and eventually get a good paying job and continue helping people and volunteering.