“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams
During my years as the Executive Director at Peacemaker Family Center (PFC) in Miami, Florida, I have learned that community development cannot happen without collaboration between energized leaders joining their efforts around a shared vision. Building powerful partnerships is key. This year, I have the great opportunity to work with a team of leaders from the Florida International University (FIU) Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s (HWCOM) Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP Program.
FIU HWCOM Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP Program empowers under-served communities to fight the cycle of poverty, leading to sustainable programs that improve lives. The Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP (Health Education Learning Program), a core component of the College of Medicine curriculum, is innovative, progressive, and inspired. Currently, there are no other medical schools in the country with this unique approach to training doctors with the tools to work with their patients within a household-based framework in underserved communities. Here is how they do it: teams of FIU students are formed to track and monitor the health of families throughout those students’ education. Each team, which works directly with 1-2 households, includes a medical student and his or her counterpart in social work, nursing and public health, alongside a practicing physician.
Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP™ is no six-week rotation; this is total immersion in real families with real problems,” Dr. Joe Greer, director of Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP™. “In most medical schools, students don’t see patients until the third year. We want our students to see the relationship between health, culture and economics from day one.”
Powerful partnerships not only change communities, they also lead to unexpected opportunities. This year, I have the privilege of participating in a 9-month fellowship as a Community Fellow within FIU HWCOM Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP Health Policy Analysis Academy. The outcomes of the work completed by The Academy research team will result in local and organizational-level policy recommendations aimed at broadening and refining the ways community stakeholders collaborate with healthcare systems to improve health outcomes. In addition to the research, I am learning new ways to collaborate with community partners to bring about systemic change.
Systemic change can often begin by inspiring young people to learn more, become more, and do more in their communities. This morning, FIU HWCOM Florida Stars Students visited our Trinity Church Children’s Defense Fund Freedoms Schools Summer Camp. These impressive, Pre-Med students are spending the summer at FIU working on science research projects, community outreach work, as well as other studies such a public policy analysis.
Our 300 Freedom Schools Scholars were able to interact with these college students during Harambee (our morning rally) and on a one-on-one basis in the small group Integrated Reading Curriculum reading circles. It’s never to early to start thinking about college education! These college students were a wonderful inspiration to our scholars.
I am thankful for our partnership with FIU HWCOM NeighborhoodHELP Program!
(photo credits: Linda Freeman and Sophia LaCroix, 2016)