These weeks have been pretty intense. Heck, these past three months have been pretty hectic, but I know you’ve really been through it recently. With all the racism, Covid, and recent sexual assault allegations in the circles around you, all while you’re trying to start an internship, you’re probably wondering when it’s all going to end, when there will be peace. But let me tell you it will get better; if not out there, then within you. You will gain inner peace, you will be your own eye in this hurricane. And you will use your inner peace and growing strength to help build an even stronger community with Authority Health.
Perhaps there’s one good thing that is occurring with all the chaos: communities that were already strong before are getting even stronger now. The people who love and support each other no matter what are striving to bring each other up when they have fallen down. They’re willing to use their strengths as a group to support each other, and acknowledge their needs as a group to continue to build. (This has happened in your NSBE community – remember?) Even the communities that had more needs in the beginning can and will use their strengths to address the needs of the individuals and of the group as a whole. This is, after all, what a community is- a group that strives to have all its members be in a better place than it was before, no matter what the external scenarios are.
Now you’re working with Detroit, specifically with Authority Health. You were drawn to the opportunity of not only learning about the social determinants of health, but to complete that learning within a city of great potential. You knew about the disinvestment of Detroit thanks to segregation and white flight. You knew that the disinvestment decreased public health, especially food security, within the communities of Detroit, especially the communities of color. And you saw Authority Health addressing those issues in the best of their abilities. So now you’re here.
At home. You’re here at home. So what does that mean for you? Even though you’re at home, about 300 miles away, you can still make an impact. Or should I say, you can still help the communities of Detroit use their strengths to build themselves. So how will you do that? You will complete the duties that MOTION delivers to you in terms of food security and physical activity. What are the communities doing that’s working? What needs are to be met? How sustainable are the current projects? And you will hopefully go on to do the Schweitzer project, measuring the sustainability of the projects past Schweitzer project fellows created.
By completing the assignments, you will be able to learn how to ignite long lasting change within a community. It’s no longer volunteering in a space once and never seeing them again. It’s no longer ignoring the strengths of a community just so you can say “they need me!” It’s no longer doing service solely for hours. This isn’t high school anymore. With Authority Health’s programs and the DCERP program as a whole, you will learn how to use the strengths of a community to address the needs (not weaknesses) of a community in a sustainable way. Those are the three golden words: strengths, needs, and sustainability. You read about it thanks to the articles from Ray’s first meeting, and you heard about it thanks to listening to Authority Health. Now you need to act on it and gain experience with it.
I know you can do this. Don’t get intimidated. Don’t get frustrated. And when you do, take a breather and go about things a different way. See you in late July!