In May 2015, I was given the opportunity to intern at Celebrating Healthy Communities Coalition along with one of their collaborative partners, La Plata Youth Services. I have spent the past few months learning through my experiences with guidance from Pat, the coalition director, Cody, coalition coordinator, and Dillon Wells, the summer program director for La Plata Youth Services. Celebrating Healthy Communities (CHC) has provided a slew of learning opportunities.
I’ve had the chance to witness what goes on behind the scenes of this coalition. I continue to learn about new campaigns and partners that are incorporated with CHC; the collaboration is truly unique and inspires change in so many areas of the community. A few tasks I have helped with are organizing a coalition meeting, preparing for an outreach event, writing a grant, and planning engaging events for a particular population. It is always humbling to witness the hard work and sweat that goes on behind the scenes. I enjoyed the outreach event that took place on Independence Day in Bayfield. CHC was in the park at the celebration thanking designated drivers with free non-alcoholic drinks while the children enjoyed balloon animals. There was a wonderful turn out and I felt like we reached so many people! About 125 adults actually and probably even more kids.
During my days spent at La Plata Youth Services (LPYS) I was a volunteer for the summer program workshops and service days. The LPYS summer program has countless fun events for the youth that I also really enjoyed and benefited from! The workshops help teach some valuable life skills while the service days are a great opportunity for the youth to give back to the community. Some of the workshops that I volunteered at are a team-building rope course day, helping in the garden at the Manna Soup Kitchen, learning about cooking healthy foods and making a healthy meal with Cooking Matters, and art in the park with the folks from the Holly House. The best part about helping at LPYS has been getting to know the kids and build relationships with them throughout the summer. I will be sad to part ways.
Celebrating Health Communities Coalition has opened the door to learning about community organization and community change in light of my soon-to-be professional career. I never realized how much patience and faith it takes to work towards community change. La Plata Youth Services provides direct services which are not a part of my volunteer work with CHC. It was great to experience these two different approaches to promoting a healthier community.