I had no idea what to expect when I moved to Pittsburgh last August to begin my year of service. I was nervous, yet excited to be living in a new city where I knew hardly anyone. The first few days of orientation were jam-packed with information. We were given a crash course on AmeriCorps and the duties of National Health Corps members. Our director, Beci, stressed the importance of using each other for support and collaboration throughout the year. I recall looking around the room at all the new faces, and feeling unsure if this group of strangers would all get along.
Fast forward to July, and I am a happy to report that I have 20 new, lifelong friends. It didn’t take long after orientation to get to know the other people in my corps. We came from all over the country with diverse backgrounds, but we all shared the same goal of improving public health. I think I can speak for all of my fellow NHC corps members when I say this year was one of personal and professional growth. Being able to work directly with clients experiencing poor health outcomes has enhanced my active listening and communication skills, and has made me a more empathetic individual. I have also gained a greater appreciation for the social determinants of health, and have become more aware that access to social and economic opportunities greatly impacts overall health status. These are facts I learned in my undergraduate public health coursework, but never truly understood until this year of direct service.
I have been exposed to so much over this past year, and learned a lot from my mentors at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, my NHC program director and coordinator, and especially my fellow corps members. They have instilled in me the importance of teamwork, and I have a better understanding of what it means to be a compassionate provider. I have no doubt that all my new friends will go on to do great things in the world, and will carry the AmeriCorps spirit of service with them. As for me, I have fallen in love with the“city of bridges”, and I am not ready to leave. Pittsburgh is one of the top cities for innovative healthcare in the country, and I look forward to further explore all the resources it has to offer. I am not sure exactly what my future holds, but I am excited to begin a career in the public health field in Pittsburgh.
This post was written by NPHC member Madeline Barnes.
Madeline serves at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as a Health Educator.