National Health Corps Announces 2019-20 Service Award Recipients

The National Health Corps is thrilled to announce the recipients of its 2019-2020 Service Award! The award was established this year in honor of AmeriCorps National Service Recognition Day to honor one member from each of the six NHC locations across the United States who exemplifies the AmeriCorps ethic of service and goes above and beyond to serve their communities. Awardees were nominated by fellow members or host site supervisors, and a review panel made final selections based on evidence of each nominee's strong ethic of service, efforts to go above and beyond their assigned responsibilities, and exceptional performance in NHC. 

NHC is proud to highlight these members and their outstanding service activities. 

NHC Chicago: Jacey Hutchinson 

Jacey serves with the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, where she supports food justice initiatives by assisting with community garden coordination, food justice workshop development, and a VeggieRx produce prescription program. Jacey's nominator highlighted her tenacious, innovative, and collaborative efforts to keep the VeggieRx program running during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that nutritious food remains accessible to those who need it most. 

NHC Florida: John Toms 

John, a Patient Navigator at Gateway Community Services, Inc., provides health education, social service linkages, and discharge planning support for people seeking recovery from addictions, including opioid use disorders. John's nominator highlighted his readiness to learn in this new position and "jump in" to address whatever needs he identifies. His efforts have included building a health education curriculum from scratch, developing a community initiative to create holiday cards for clients within Gateway's residential program and detox center, and developing an animal-assisted therapy pilot program to help clients address stress and anxiety. 

NHC New York: Rachel Barnett

Rachel's service with HRHCare includes providing intake screenings and Naloxone outreach and distribution for the organization's Medication Assisted Treatment program; managing a partnership that provides access to healthy foods; and developing, delivering, and evaluating both a nutrition education program and a physical activity promotion program. Rachel's nominator highlighted that her community outreach efforts have resulted in an increase in client engagement since her service began, and noted her dedication to navigating her multiple and diverse responsibilities. 

NHC Philadelphia: Sara Mathai 

Sara's service with Delaware Valley Community Health, Inc.'s Maria de los Santos Health Center includes engaging health center patients in preventive health screenings, social determinants of health screenings, and resource linkages, as well as planning and implementing group visits for patients with chronic conditions. Sara's nominator highlighted Sara's dedication to ensuring that her patients' needs are met, and her quick thinking and problem-solving skills; for example, Sara was able to identify a family with food insecurity and help them connect to needed resources, and helped make sure a power outage didn't get in the way of the cooking classes she helps to run.

NHC Pittsburgh: Roen Wheeler 

Roen serves at Primary Care Health Services, Inc., where she provides engagement, education, encouragement, follow-up, and referral to pediatric and adult patients working to manage obesity and related conditions. Roen also supports families of pediatric patients with food insecurity in connecting to food resources. Roen's nominators highlighted her creativity in providing health education, with topics that include self-defense, nutrition education, and Afro dance, as well as her establishment of exercise classes for the Pittsburgh community. Roen was recognized for her ability to provide compassionate and enthusiastic support to service recipients and fellow NHC members alike.

NHC San Francisco: Whitney Francis 

Whitney serves with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, where she assists with implementing weekly Food Pharmacies at four clinic sites to help promote health equity and address food insecurity. Whitney engages patients in interactive nutrition education and cooking demonstrations, collects patient feedback, helps launch new Food Pharmacy sites, and recruits and trains volunteers to assist with food access initiatives. Whitney's nominator highlighted Whitney's thoughtful attention to dynamics of oppression and her readiness to identify ways to mitigate them. Her efforts have included mutli-faceted strategies to increase Black/African American patients' participation in Food Pharmacies that are driven by her passion, commitment to equity, authenticity, and respect for patients.