Philadelphia Consortium Projects - 2019

Homeless & Transitional Housing

Harm Reduction at a Safe Haven

Student Interns:
Conor Bradley, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
William Vervilles, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptor:
Maria Hervada-Page, MSS, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Matt Soldano, Bethesda Project, My Brother’s House

Community Site: 
My Brother’s House, a component of the Bethesda Project, is a safe-haven shelter for chronically homeless men who battle mental illness and substance abuse. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Health Services; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health and Mental Disorders; Nutrition and Physical Activity; Oral Health and Hygiene; Sexual Health Education; Social Determinants of Health; Substance Abuse.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at the Bethesda Project’s My Brother’s House organized on- and off-site activities to educate residents about heart-healthy behaviors. Activities included going to the Mütter Museum, organizing storage, cooking meals, developing health goals with residents and building storage cubicles. Additionally, the interns developed educational materials and led discussions focusing on smoking cessation, oral health and nutrition. The interns also assisted residents and staff with daily tasks, including sorting clothing and toiletry donations, helping residents fill out applications, and accompanying residents to medical and housing appointments.

Intern Statements: 
Conor Bradley: “I am thankful for my time at My Brother’s House for many different reasons. Listening to people who have been experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges and substance abuse disorders tell their stories has changed me. These stories will be the narratives that I take with me when I see patients as a future physician and treat vulnerable people in our society. The residents’ stories caused me to pause and wonder. Each of their stories is so unique, yet so many share a common theme of trying to find stability amongst chaos. I greatly admire the work MBH does to connect residents to more stable housing and reduce the harm that they experience day to day while living here. I aim to take the lessons of teamwork and community from this place with me into all other environments I encounter in the future.”

William Vervilles: “My Brother’s House and the Bethesda Project are incredible organizations doing great work supporting individuals in Philadelphia experiencing homelessness. Over the summer, I have witnessed the obstacles the gentlemen here face and the resilience they have developed as they pursue stable housing opportunities. The personal stories they shared with me and the advice they passed along will stay with me throughout my life and career in medicine. The staff at Bethesda consistently showed me what it means to advocate for these individuals. As a future physician, I will strive to support my patients just as passionately.”

 

Supporting Growth and Recognizing Resilience and Strength of Youth at Covenant House PA

Student Interns:
Marisa Beckett, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine
Jennifer Goodlin, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptors:
Maya Bass, MD, MA, Drexel University, Department of Family Medicine
Brittany T. Watson, MS, VMD, PhD, DACVPM, University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine

Community Preceptor: 
David Reis, Education and Vocation Department, Covenant House Pennsylvania

Community Site: 
The Covenant House Pennsylvania Crisis Center provides shelter and support for young adults aged 18 to 21. The crisis center provides a full range of services, including case management and advocacy, access to legal advice, on-site healthcare provided by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and an educational and vocational counseling and training program. Covenant House helps youth who are in transition maintain stability and offers guidance to keep them growing in a positive direction. The youth are expected to take on more responsibility, such as finding a job and completing educational goals, in preparation for their departure from Covenant House. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Healthcare; Educational Advancement/Literacy; Health Communication; Heart Disease and Stroke; Mental Health.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns’ main role consisted of assisting in the Education and Vocation (EdVoc) Department. With the EdVoc staff, interns helped residents create résumés, worked with residents on job searching and applications, and assisted in interview preparation. Interns also staffed the computer lab and worked with youth on various applications, including social services and financial aid. The interns’ duties included attending daily transitions to inform the late shift about resident statuses and organizing the boutique of professional clothing for job interviews. Interns also had the opportunity to shadow in the clinic and run programs for residents on animal behavior and training and heart health.

Intern Statements:
Marisa Beckett: “I will forever be thankful for the time I spent at Covenant House and the experience I gained this summer. By working with the incredible residents and the amazingly passionate staff, I was able to develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be compassionate and listen to people in the way they deserve to be heard. I learned that my passion for connecting with and helping others and my passion for veterinary medicine do not have to be mutually exclusive. I am excited to continue in my professional and personal development carrying the lessons I learned from my experience this summer with me.”

Jennifer Goodlin: “Although my summer at Covenant House was brief, I have come away with ideas and techniques I can apply and practice as a future physician. Throughout the summer I was in awe of the residents’ strength and resilience and am proud to have been a tiny part of their journey to becoming incredible adults. Through Dr. Ginsburg and Dr. Renjilian, I witnessed the power of deep active listening, of being present, of taking away labels and focusing on an individual’s strengths. I appreciated the opportunity to learn about the challenges faced by homeless young adults and hope to continue to fulfill my passion for community service and community health as I move forward in my career.”

 

Supporting Health and Wellness Goals for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness

Student Interns:
Eileen Borczon, Drexel University College of Medicine
Jacob Edelman, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Leon McCrea II, MD, MPH, Drexel University College of Medicine

Community Preceptors:
Michelle Abbruzzese, MSS, Depaul House
Tamara Coleman, St. Raymond’s House

Community Site: 
Depaul House provides services for men experiencing homelessness. These services include basic housing, case management, connections to employment, health education, behavioral health therapy, financial literacy, budgeting and peer support. All services are delivered in a trauma-informed, recovery-oriented, strengths-based environment. The program aims to stabilize each individual and work with him to obtain permanent housing. St. Raymond’s House provides permanent supportive housing for men and women experiencing homelessness and chronic health conditions. St. Raymond’s House works with residents to bridge the gap in access to services by providing case management and connecting residents to healthcare, as well as providing nutrition counseling, therapeutic groups and activities, computer literacy tutoring and harm reduction-focused recovery counseling. St. Raymond’s House uses a strengths-based approach to care, promoting the self-determination and autonomy of each resident. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Healthcare; Chronic Disease (Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Respiratory Diseases, etc.); Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Substance Abuse; Tobacco Use.

Project:
After getting to know the residents, the Bridging the Gaps student interns at Depaul House and St. Raymond’s House identified topics of interest for health education programming. They developed groups and workshops for addressing issues including nutrition, healthy eating, smoking cessation, stress reduction, exercise and other areas of wellness. In addition, the interns assisted staff with case management and administrative duties at each site. Alongside the staff, the students actively listened to residents in an effort to better support their goals.

Intern Statements: 
Eileen Borczon: “My experience with Depaul House this summer helped me to deepen my understanding of social factors that impact the health and well-being of individuals experiencing homelessness. While the health education that I did was important, I found that the most important thing that I could do every day was to show up, listen and learn from the residents. Individuals often shared how difficult going through a period of homelessness can be and how incredibly isolating and lonely the experience of homelessness can feel. I know that the lessons that I have learned at Depaul House will allow me to provide more effective and compassionate care in my role as a medical student and future physician.”

Jacob Edelman: “Upon reflection of my summer at St. Raymond’s House, I have learned a significant amount not only about some of the challenges individuals experiencing homelessness may face, but also about the importance of building a strong foundation of trust, especially as an outsider in a new community. Much of my work this summer has been aimed toward finding creative and engaging ways to help empower residents to reach their goals. This has helped me reframe my expectations for helping others from a desire to solve every issue to instead finding value in incremental positive changes. Ultimately, I am hopeful that my time spent at St. Raymond’s House will encourage me to continue to learn from and listen to the communities I work with both now and in the future.”

 

Health Promotion Across the Life Span

Student Interns:
Amaris Dobson, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Occupational Therapy 
Kimberly Hoover, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Anna Melnick, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptors:
Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH, MCHES, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Stephen B. Kern, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Thomas Jefferson University, College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Occupational Therapy
James D. Plumb, MD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptors:
Barbara Coleman, Program Director, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries
Barbara Willis-Powell, Activities Coordinator, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries

Community Site: 
Mercy Neighborhood Ministries of Philadelphia, Inc., located in the Nicetown-Tioga section of North Philadelphia, is a faith-based community center. Mercy provides childcare services, including Head Start, preschool, before- and after-school care, and a nine-week summer day camp for children from pre-K through eighth grade, and adult day care for adults who are unable to complete daily self-care activities independently or who desire companionship. Mercy also offers GED classes. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Elder Health and Senior Quality of Life; Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness.

Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked with children aged 2 to 10 at the Mercy Neighborhood Ministries summer camp, where they assisted with daily camp activities such as soccer practice, field trips and education. The interns collaborated with staff for academic enrichment, including reading, writing, math and critical thinking, and implemented cardiovascular lesson plans that involved educational components in addition to age-appropriate activities. The interns also worked at the on-site adult day center, where they supported staff with physical and cognitive engagement for adults, including member-led exercise, art activities, memory and trivia activities, and open discussion. The interns also assisted with meals, hygiene and day center programming.

Intern Statements: 
Amaris Dobson: “This internship has made clear to me the overwhelming good that comes from a community which prioritizes building its support network through generosity and honest human connection. Mercy Neighborhood Ministries describes itself as a family, and does not fall short in living up to this metaphor. Having the opportunity to work with groups across a spectrum of ages, I recognized that regardless of age, there are a few things that tend to benefit all individuals: to have their voices heard, to be reminded of their ongoing value to the community, and to be met where they are. This experience has added to an ever-evolving skill set which will allow me to interact with future clients and with the world around me by offering a listening ear before all else.”

Kimberly Hoover: “My summer at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries not only heightened my passion for children, but also demonstrated to me how practicing medicine goes further than an exam room; good health includes a healthy environment and fruitful education. Serving others starts with community, and it was rewarding to participate in the community of teachers and students at Mercy, a group of people whose concern for others inspires me to lead with compassion in both my professional and personal life. As I continue to learn and grow in my own education, I will take with me the sense of community, the positive attitude and the enthusiasm for knowledge that was ever present at Mercy.”

Anna Melnick: “My time at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries was only a few weeks, but working with young children and older adults at the North Philadelphia site was a fantastic opportunity to witness the power of community in action. Many of the adults I worked with as fellow teachers had gone to Mercy in their youth, and the sense of connection between both the young and older clients was inspiring. Mercy has a clear dedication to the entire life span of people in its community, and values giving opportunities for people to explore and grow no matter their age. Mercy provides breakfast and lunch, plus a snack, for its clients each day, acknowledging that nutrition is an integral component of health for everyone. Clients young and old did not merely bide their time at Mercy, but instead spent a day full of varied activities and educational fun. I saw how much effort was put in to enrich lives and create a space where all belonged, and being a part of the community at Mercy was an absolute privilege.”

 

Empowering Youth Through Education Advancement and Health & Wellness

Student Intern:
Kathleen Anne Nicanor, Temple University, School of Pharmacy

Academic Preceptor:
Providenza Loera Rocco, JD, MSW, MBE, Temple University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Community Preceptor:
Kelly Devlin, MSW, Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence

Community Site: 
The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence is a safe and welcoming emergency housing shelter offering loving, respectful, compassionate, nonjudgmental services to empower residents to strive toward self-sufficiency. All family configurations, including families with teenage children and single men with children, are accepted; however, the majority of families are young mothers with infants. Many of these women have aged out of the DHS system and are now entering the shelter system as homeless adults. They enter the shelter lacking basic life skills and parenting skills and having little to no actual work experience. The majority of these young mothers have self-identified as victims of traumatic childhoods; physical, emotional and sexual abuse; and neglect. In fact, 75% of residents have openly reported trauma histories. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Oral Health; Physical Activity and Fitness.

Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student intern served as a camp counselor for the children at the Red Shield Family Residence. Every day started with an enrichment hour, focusing on math, reading and current events to promote educational advancement and literacy. The summer was filled with educational activities, including nutrition Jeopardy; learning GO, SLOW, and WHOA! food categories; guessing beverage sugar levels; learning the importance of mental health and ways to increase mindfulness; learning how to floss; and creating a poster on the “Minion” ways to stay heart smart. The intern chaperoned the children on fun and educational trips throughout the summer, including visits to the Woodmere Art Museum, the Mütter Museum, Clementon Park and Splash World, the Philadelphia Zoo and the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. Daily activities included arts and crafts to promote self-expression; physical exercise by walking to the park, visiting the community pool and playing action charades; and writing or drawing in camp journals to further allow the children to self-reflect and express their emotions. The summer camp provided the children at the shelter with a safe and enriching environment to meet friends, make connections and build self-esteem as they learn to navigate and find ways to find comfort and acceptance through this difficult time of their early childhood.

Intern Statement: 
Kathleen Anne Nicanor: “My summer at Red Shield has taught me a new level of patience and understanding. Being part of Bridging the Gaps has been such an emotional, enriching and humbling experience, as I was able to see the resilience and strength of each child, despite the internal and external conflicts that come with experiencing homelessness. This experience has inspired me to further serve the underserved and advocate for the youth, especially those in vulnerable circumstances and populations. I hope I was able to make a positive impact on the kids at Red Shield, as they have tremendously impacted my life as a future healthcare professional.”

Serenity Court: A Safety Net

Student Interns:
Maksim Bakrenev, Drexel University College of Medicine
Alex Berman, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
Ryan Schroeder, MD, Abington Hospital

Community Preceptor:
Pete McCauley, JD, MSW, Depaul USA

Community Site: 
Serenity Court is a medical respite for homeless individuals. It started in 2013 as a partnership between Depaul USA and the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC), with an eight-bed facility located in Depaul House (a transitional home for men only), providing short-term housing and social services to homeless men recuperating from recent hospitalization. With its relocation in 2018 to Serenity Court, it can now house up to 20 men and women. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Access to Healthcare; Chronic Disease; Disabilities Conditions; Mental Health; Substance Abuse.

Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Serenity Court enlivened the respite facility by procuring books, playing games, facilitating interactive activities and conversing with residents to cheer them during their stay. The interns also performed casework such as creating an intake checklist, finding housing, and obtaining documents such as birth certificates and Social Security cards. Additionally, they helped residents apply for welfare benefits, including food stamps, Medicaid and veteran’s services. The interns also conducted research into medical respite programs across the country and the unique factors affecting people experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia.

Intern Statements:
Maksim Bakrenev: “My summer at Serenity Court gave me an amazing opportunity to work with an often-overlooked community. It forced me to look at human suffering in its face, but also to help foster human resilience. In trying to address the needs of the residents, there were many uncomfortable moments that I had never been exposed to before. Frustratingly, most of the issues were structural, and there was little to do but to have patience. Not only will trying to overcome these setbacks make me a better physician in the future, it will make me a better person.”

Alex Berman: “My summer at Serenity Court can be summarized into one phrase: eye-opening. In my time here, I have navigated a small portion of a vast series of twists and turns that serve as looming barriers to those experiencing homelessness who are attempting to obtain their basic needs. I have comforted people in the throes of despair but also shared their hope for a better tomorrow. And I have learned how to channel my residents’ and my own frustrations into action. This experience has expanded my understanding and practice of empathy, compassion and advocacy in a way that can be applied to all my patients as a future physician.”

 

Promoting Adolescent Wellness and Development at Youth Emergency Service

Student Interns:
Julia Gong, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Lauren Lynch, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Academic Preceptors:
Rickie Brawer, PhD, MPH, MCHES, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
James D. Plumb, MD, MPH, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College

Community Preceptor:
Tim Massaquoi, MA, Youth Emergency Service

Community Site: 
Youth Emergency Service, located in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia, provides immediate shelter and support services to adolescents aged 12 to 18 who face housing insecurity or who are unable to live safely with their families. View Community Partner Web Site

BTG Focus Areas (adapted from Healthy People 2010 and 2020):
Educational Advancement/Literacy; Mental Health; Nutrition and Weight Status; Physical Activity and Fitness; Responsible Sexual Behavior.

Project:
The Bridging the Gaps student interns at Youth Emergency Service (YES) developed a summer wellness and enrichment program that included a two-hour physical exercise activity and a two-hour wellness/enrichment activity each day. The activities included yoga/mindfulness meditation; cardio workouts; cooking classes; and professional development and financial literacy workshops, led by community partners, volunteers, staff at YES and the interns. Selected youth were recognized at the end of each week for their leadership, outstanding participation in the program and embodiment of YES values.

Intern Statements: 
Julia Gong: “Through working at YES this summer, I gained a new perspective on the complex challenges that youth experiencing housing instability face each day. I was impressed that even in this transient environment, the youth fostered a safe and open place in which they could grow as individuals. Their resilience and positive outlooks are extremely inspiring; my experiences from this summer have prepared me to be a more mindful physician and better advocate in the future.”

Lauren Lynch: “Working at Youth Emergency Service this summer gave me fresh insight into the lives of an already misunderstood population. Our society has stereotypes about adolescents, and meeting the teens where they were in their lives allowed me to see through those stereotypes and instead recognize them as individuals with unique qualities. Additionally, it was incredible to see the resilience and enthusiasm of youth experiencing homelessness. My favorite memory from the summer was taking the youth to Skyzone and giving them the opportunity to be carefree and just be kids again.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bridging The Gaps

Our Mission:
BTG links the provision of health-related service for under-resourced communities with the interprofessional training of health and social service professionals.

Email: info@bridgingthegaps.info

Phone: 215-898-4141

Join Our Mail List

© 2023 by Bridging the Gaps.|  Terms of Use  |   Privacy Policy