Campus & Community Connect: A Reflection from a College Health Corps VISTA Member

May 12, 2015

A Reflection from Kelsey Stern, a 2014-15 College Health Corps VISTA Member

SMSUCampusandCommunity

The April 2015 Campus & Community Connect in Marshall, Minnesota brought together Southwest Minnesota State University, community members, and social service providers to  highlight the resources and ways they are working together to address the issues facing low-income residents. The event largely focused on health and wellness topics featuring blood pressure screenings, diabetes education, and the opportunity to win health and wellness related door prizes.

Personally, the day was almost like a blur as myself and some helpers were scrambling around to make sure everything was done on time, and I was checking to make sure that everything was in place. However, despite the scrambling, the event turned out very well. We had a variety of vendors from the community and some from the surrounding area: nonprofit organizations, businesses, health professionals, and state programs available.

Campus & Community Connect was revamped after experiencing a hiatus for a couple years. Anticipating how many people would attend was difficult because of these changes. My supervisor, Dr. Kris Cleveland, and myself shot for a range of 50 to 200 [guests that would attend]. After everything was said and done, we had 53 people register at Campus & Community Connect, not counting any of the people who may have only gone to the Open Door Health Center Medical Mobile RV that was parked just outside along the street.

Attendees were comprised of both students and community members. We were surprised at how many students that did come and attend the event since we were marketing towards more of the community in comparison to campus. It was great to see students come interested in the event and hear their opinions of it. What really made the event a small success in my eyes were the community members that attended. Despite the fact that there were not as many people as we wanted, the people who did come were able to learn more about the resources available in the community, and that was the goal for both Dr. Cleveland and myself.

We had presentations during the event provided by the Diabetes Prevention Coordinators: Sharon Hennen, Darlyce Rangaard, and Luci Kovash as well as a presentation on the Minnesota Job Bank website provided by the Minnesota WorkForce Center. We also had door prizes drawn in between presentations, all of them surrounding the theme of health, wellness, and active living. We thank both the Marshall Area YMCA and the Marshall Aquatic Center for donating their prizes to Campus & Community Connect. The Y provided two one-month long memberships to family (or can be redeemed for a lesser value). The Aquatic Center provided a season pool-pass for a family during this upcoming summer.

It was great to know that the vendors found it a great experience and that it was a sign of good things to come for next year. Community leaders are very interested in seeing Campus & Community Connect continue annually and even see it expand. Dr. Cleveland and I are working on creating a partnership with these leaders to make this event sustainable and help the event grow.

There is always room for improvement and this year was a steep learning curve for both of us in coordinating a wellness event. Thanks to everything that we have learned and the new partnerships that have been formed in doing so, we are confident that next year we will be better prepared to engage both the community and campus in attending Campus & Community Connect. We really wanted to bring awareness of the issues affecting the Marshall Community, such as economic inequality and homelessness. We felt, though it was small, that the event achieved in bringing together the community around these issues. We are excited to see what will happen next.

Campus & Community Connect was hosted at Southwest Minnesota State University in the Upper Level Conference Center on Tuesday, April 28th; from 2:00 – 7:00 PM.

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