National Health Corps Florida Blog

I remember questioning my great-grandma one night about why she always overcooked every meal we had. She responded, “Because you never know who will be at your door and ask you for food and that person could unknowingly be an angel.” Ever since, I promised to myself to never be selfish and always be willing to give.
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Group Service Projects such as these give me the opportunity to both learn from and connect with my new community in Jacksonville. These outside service opportunities have allowed me to learn more about the issues regarding health access in northeast Florida that impact all age groups. As someone who will be attending medical school after my term of service is over, it is important for me to understand the barriers to access that many people face.
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Substance use disorders are widely misunderstood. The general assumption is that a substance use disorder is simply the result of poor personal choice and a lack of will of the individual suffering from this disease. This assumption is both false and detrimental to the individuals whose lives are drastically altered by a substance use disorder.
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All eyes are on this pandemic, as it should be. But the fact of the matter is, life is still happening outside of this. Babies are still being born. People are still having heart attacks. Lives are still being taken by overdoses.
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I love the field of behavioral health more than I thought that I would. However, it’s not easy. As an empathic person, it has always been difficult for me not to absorb the emotions and the troubles of those around me. Luckily, in a previous position, I had learned about vicarious trauma.
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Coming out of academia and into AmeriCorps, I equated “professional communication” with using grandiose phraseology and ostentatiously promulgating my encyclopedic intelligence. Basically, I thought I needed to use language to impress people.
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One of the most wonderful things in life is diversity. No human is the same; we all come from different backgrounds. With the waves of diverse cultures we see in the ‘melting pot’ we call the United States, we are fortunate to have exposure to many unique people.
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The language of empathy is not spoken. It is found in the small gestures of kindness, the slightly awkward first encounters, and the smile that says I see you and I am here for you. Throughout my service term, I have learned a lot about real-world empathy. I have gained a deeper understanding beyond the textbook definition that I knew in undergrad.
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I try my best to make each day a little better for vulnerable youth. Serving at a place like JASMYN and coming face-to-face with the consequences of everyday cruelty, ignorance, and bigotry makes it impossible for you not to acknowledge the privileges you’ve been given just by virtue of your own birth.
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