National Health Corps is a branch of AmeriCorps that provides support for community organizations that effectively and compassionately bridge the health-resource gap in underserved communities. In these neighborhoods, the social determinants of health are often outside of individual or family control and lead to disproportionately health-damaging experiences. Organizations like SWOP connect people in the community with holistic support and address factors such as housing, education, income, and healthcare while fostering one-to-one relationships. I plan to support SWOP’s System of Care by conducting a series of nutrition workshops for parents at partner schools. After this year of service, I hope parent mentors and navigators will be leading a strong health education program for the community.
Only three weeks into my year of service, I have really come to appreciate SWOP’s relationship-driven model, and I would like to learn how to apply it to fostering community health. I would also like to understand the creation and implementation of the System of Care and how a community can coordinate existing resources to support individuals and families that often fall through the cracks.
Communities of people who are committed to one another and to shared visions are the best forces of change, and we need much change. Community organizing gets at this – building relationships to gather communities together and build power. I’m at SWOP because I believe in this and want to learn more.
I’m also at SWOP because I’m a social work student at the University of Chicago School of Social Administration. After working with people experiencing homelessness and mental illness last year, I wanted to learn more about preventative, proactive work around housing and the many interrelated pieces which are a part just communities. When I learned about SWOP, I saw a group of people committed to placemaking. I’m here to learn about placemaking and community organizing.
Practically, as I’m an intern, I am at SWOP twice a week. I will support the work of SWOP through behind-the-scenes tasks – starting with working on writing about the work that is happening to both create an archive and spread the word and posting on social media to share events that are happening and opportunities to join.