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Lehigh Valley Projects - 2020

Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley


Health Equity Fellowship: A Radically Welcoming Virtual Learning Experience with Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley 


Student Interns: 

Chelsea Budde, DeSales University, Division of Nursing

Emelyn Cruz, DeSales University, Division of Nursing

Abigail Dugo, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Noel Kelly, DeSales University, Medical Studies

Daniel Phillips, Marywood University, School of Social Work

Charlene Weiner, Moravian College, Department of Nursing and Public Health


Academic Preceptor: 

Mary Ellen T. Miller, PhD, RN, APHN-BC, DeSales University, Division of Nursing


Community Preceptors: 

Hasshan Batts, MSW, DHSc, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley

Oladoyin Onawole, BA, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley 


Community Site: 

The mission of Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley (PNLV) is to foster cooperation among residents and with the greater Lehigh Valley to create safe, healthy, vibrant, inclusive neighborhoods that expect children to succeed in school and where adults and families thrive and want to live. 



The Bridging the Gaps student interns created Learning Management System (LMS) PowerPoint presentations for people in the Allentown community on the topics of cultural competency in healthcare, housing access and social isolation. Each LMS module contained information regarding BTG’s community health objectives of cardiovascular health, oral health and smoking cessation. Interns also participated in virtual interviews of community members in which they were taught the importance of a radical welcome and the value of community expertise, as they have the greatest knowledge of how to possibly fix problems in their own neighborhoods. They used community-based participatory research to gather information for their presentations. Every Monday, the interns listened to and participated in discussions during webinars hosted by Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley on various topics of inequities present in Allentown and in this country in general. The interns also contributed to research on various topics about police brutality in order to assist PNLV staff in writing a white paper they plan to present to Allentown legislators.



Intern Statements: 

Chelsea Budde: “In the midst of a pandemic that mandates social isolation to maintain safety, interning with Bridging the Gaps has provided me the chance to feel more connected to my community than ever before. I have been exposed to the social determinants of a system that has failed the brown and black people of my own community in Allentown. In a time of revelation consisting of a pandemic, racial war and the beginning of my senior nursing year at DeSales University, I am grateful for the opportunity to dive into what truly matters in healthcare. BTG has ingrained in me the importance of advocacy, compassion, community and radical welcomes. Those are the values I will execute for the rest of my life and my career as a nurse, in hopes I can be an example to others so we can address and end inequity together.” 


Emelyn Cruz: “The Bridging the Gaps internship has helped me become more aware of the issues going on in my own community. Through the internship I was able to gain knowledge about working in a trauma-informed manner to ensure the best possible care for my patients. This will help my professional development because by being aware of the obstacles my community faces, I will be able to be a more competent provider. The Bridging the Gaps internship has opened my eyes to all the hardships communities face and the importance of recognizing these disparities.” 


Abigail Dugo: “Working as a BTG intern with PNLV this summer has shown me how to put my education on social determinants of health to use in a way that is most meaningful to the community I will be serving. By promoting community-based participatory research, PNLV identifies problems and develops solutions that are community driven rather than just applying national statistics-based interventions to a unique community that faces unique challenges. This perspective has humbled me, and I hope to continue using this model of consulting the experts, community members themselves, throughout my career.”


Noel Kelly: “The Bridging the Gaps internship has enlightened me on many adversities that people in the community could be facing when I become a physician assistant. Understanding the factors that may limit their access to care or prevent them from following a specific treatment plan will enable me to provide the best quality care for my patients that is trauma informed and culturally humble. Personally, I enjoyed working with my interdisciplinary group of interns as I feel it helped me learn the importance of a teamwork-oriented environment. Speaking with community members about what life is like in Allentown really educated me on how inequity is immensely present in our society in a structural way. I believe that this internship has expanded my worldview extraordinarily and has motivated me to remain a lifelong advocate for more equitable healthcare practices and policies.”


Daniel Phillips: “The Bridging the Gaps fellowship with Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley explored the need for engaging and listening to the community. The experience has challenged my perspective on how community-based agencies function and how services are offered in Allentown. With a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health and speaking with community members, the need for solidarity on changing how housing is accessed, healthcare is provided, food is made available and many other pathways were made clear. I hope to utilize the differing perspectives of community members and the interdisciplinary team I worked with to advocate for those who need it most in my future work.”


Charlene Weiner: “Throughout the Bridging the Gaps internship with Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, I was blessed to have been able to become more aware of the adversities that people in my own community face every single day. This has helped enhance my ability as a future healthcare professional to provide patient-centered and trauma-informed care. This internship opportunity has helped me to further develop professionally by helping me to grow many relationships with fellow aspiring healthcare workers. The Bridging the Gaps internship has made me a much bigger advocate in fighting for health equity for my patients and has helped me to increase my engagement in my community as a whole. I am very grateful for this opportunity to represent both Bridging the Gaps and Moravian College in my endeavors to assist Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley to support, prepare and educate the people of Allentown to lead positive, healthy lifestyles.”

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