AmeriCorps member and Health Educator, Sara Weinzapfel, currently serves as Deaconess Family Medicine Residency, Evansville, IN.
I serve at Deaconess Family Medicine Residency as part of Healthy Expectations. This team is built of many professionals including dietitians, social workers, nurses, AmeriCorps members, grant managers, and more. They strive to help patients with every aspect of their life. A large part of healthy expectations is serving prenatal patients. I became part of this organization because of the opportunities it had to offer, and the great work it provides for their patients. The staff involved an incredible team of individuals dedicated to their work, and this organization gave me skills and knowledge I would need to be successful.
[Serving as] Health Solutions Health Educator, I had the freedom to create class curriculums on almost any nutrition related subject. I worked with the grants manager to fund our program. As a health educator, I completed follow up visits with the RD’s patients and assisted them with their nutrition goals. A large responsibility of mine was revising a program we provided for the children, and I worked with the grants coordinator to design classes and nutrition counseling for our patients.
My service project involved a gardening class for the pediatric patients at the residency. Most of these children had either not gardened before, or simply did not have the yard space to grow a garden. We supplied pots, soil, and seeds to grow a container garden for the children to take home and grow. This program was successful and highly important to our population because many of these children had not been exposed to the education gardening can provide. The children were excited to learn and would provide updates on their plants in classes that followed. Next year we plan to make this an even bigger experience by working on a community garden.
…AmeriCorps and beyond
My AmeriCorps experience has been extremely valuable to both my education and success. I can take what I have learned and use it in any aspect of my life. Since my goal is to become a registered dietitian, this opportunity exposed me to many different aspects of the dietetic field. It strengthened my teaching skills, knowledge, and gave me experience in community nutrition. I am very lucky to have been a part of this organization because I feel AmeriCorps is needed for the population I served. Our patients were dedicated to this program and really learned from what we had to offer to them. I have seen many patients grown and become successful because of the work the residency has to offer. AmeriCorps influenced me to search more into community nutrition, especially as a dietitian. When my term for AmeriCorps ends, I plan to finish graduate school and serve another year with AmeriCorps.