Stories from Cincinnati , OH
Working with the uninsured & underinsured low income clients is a challenge. Our program, the Jordan Health Program, tries to assist our clients with medical needs that they have no way of accessing. It is amazing to me the people who are seen by a clinic, physician or even released from a hospital with a handful for prescriptions that they have no way of obtaining. These folks have no way to buy expensive medications, obtain needed supplies, or even supplements. People who need antibiotics, heart medications, pain meds or drugs to keep their mental disorders in check.
One such case was a 3 year old child who had been born with only one kidney and that kidney was not functioning, actually breaking down & causing a life threatening infection. Children’s Hospital scheduled him for surgery to remove the kidney, putting him on dialysis until a donor could be found. But the surgery was scheduled 10 days out & they sent him home with a prescription for antibiotics that Walgreen’s wanted $85 to fill. Needless to say, the family did not have this money & were terrified the child would not survive long enough to have the surgery. The mother came to the Lower Price Hill Family Center asking for help & they called upstairs to me. I made a few calls and a neighborhood family run pharmacy agreed to fill this prescription for the child for $5. This was certainly not going to cover their costs but they were willing to make a stretch to help this family try to save their son. Being in this position through the Americorps Program with the Notre Dame Mission Volunteers gave me the opportunity to give this one child another chance.
Imago Eart Center
One rainy morning, it turned out that we were teaching our Native American program that day. This is normally a fun program that teaches kids all about the Shawnee Tribe as they walk through a model village, work in a traditional garden, play authentic musical instruments, see all sorts of interesting artifacts, and even participate in genuine Shawnee games. We almost always receive positive feedback from teachers and students alike. All these things make this one of the more fun programs to teach, too. If you’ve ever had to lead of group of uncomfortable, unhappy, elementary students through a three and a half hour program, though, you’ll know that any fun activity can quickly turn into a chore.
In an effort to avoid this undesirable scenario, I decided that my best bet was to start the program on a positive note and take advantage of the children’s natural enthusiasm before they even realized they were uncomfortable. Fortunately, this was relatively easy to do with our Native American program. The goal of this particular program is to give students a feel for what everyday life was like in the Shawnee Tribe. This meant that, at times, we were going to do things just like the Shawnee people did. Well, the Shawnee couldn’t put their lives on hold and retreat indoors every time it rained, so neither would we. The Native Americans relied on the rain for many things and embraced each rainy day with joy. If we wanted to understand what it was like for the Shawnee, we needed to enter the day with the same attitude, and we did. We played games in the rain, saw how the muddy soil made it easier to work in the garden, appreciated a few moments of relief as we huddled in the wigwam, talked about ways water was important as we watched raindrops make hundreds of tiny ripples in the pond, and we even got to taste the rain as it soaked our hair and streamed down our faces.
By the end of the afternoon, this group of students had experienced Native American life much more intensely and personally than most. The only real complaints I heard all day came from the adult chaperones who weren’t as willing to use their imaginations to get the most out of the experience. Sure, there were moments when some of the kids got a little cold and had to take a break inside, but I really felt like that was one of the best programs I had taught all fall. My feelings were validated when several of the students from my group didn’t even want to leave afterwards. They said they had a great time and begged me to hide them so they could spend the night with us at Imago. Why do all kids seem to think their teachers live at school?
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Notre Dame Mission Volunteers - Americorps
5405 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239
Phone:(410) 532-6864 - Fax: (410) 532-2418