Enjoying Service in Philadelphia

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~Gandhi

This quotation has so much more meaning to me now that I have started my year of service in the Philadelphia Health Corps.  I’ve learned so much about myself already and it’s still just the beginning!

So far it’s been a wonderful experience exploring a new city and learning a new job.  My host site is the Abbottsford Falls Family Practice and Counseling Network.  I work in the Dental office as a Dental Care Coordinator.  I’m serving as the liaison between primary care and dental care while assisting in bridging the gap between the two and teaching patients that oral health care is connected to overall health and wellness.  After all, your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body!

Everyone at my host site is very friendly and extremely grateful that I’m here to help serve them and their patients.  It’s nice to feel so appreciated and welcomed by the staff.  I’ve met so many people that are willing to support me in my learning process and want to share with me things they have learned from years of working in the healthcare field.  I couldn’t be more grateful for this.

We hold classes and support groups here at the health center and seeing patients come together and support each other has been my favorite part about working here so far.  I’ve spoken about the importance of dental care at the Parenting classes held here at the health center to both new mothers and prenatal patients.  I’ve also spoken about the connections between diabetes and periodontitis (advanced gum disease) at the weekly Diabetes support group meetings.  I find this work very rewarding and fulfilling because I can directly see how this information is helping our patients.  By engaging with them and answering their questions I feel like I am truly helping them.  A patient who had not seen a dentist in a number of years booked an appointment after listening to me teach about the importance of dental care.  Now that is helping someone in a direct way and it made me feel great!  I hope to explore more Health Education opportunities throughout the year and continue to serve in this way.

Aside from my individual work at my host site, I’m really enjoying getting to know the other members of the Corps.  They all inspire me to keep growing, giving back, and serving.  Having that support system in place has been wonderful.  It’s nice to have other members to share your experiences with, be it challenges or rewards.

I’m a member of the Service Committee and my fellow members and I have been working hard to find outside opportunities to serve the wonderful city of Philadelphia!  We are scheduled to serve at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore project in December and I’m really looking forward to it.  I also volunteered at the Career Wardrobe Boutique, a recycled clothing store, and had a fantastic experience with the staff there.  They do some amazing work to empower women in the workforce and I found it very inspiring.

Overall my experience as a member of the 2012-13 Philadelphia Health Corps has been a wonderful learning experience and unique growing opportunity.  I’m excited for what the rest of the year will bring!

Name: Melanie Wall
Position: Dental Care Coordinator
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Why did you join the Health Corps: To help and serve people who need it.
Favorite thing about Philly: The view of the Ben Franklin Bridge at night.

Melanie(left) and fellow service cohort Erin in a joyous embrace on the Delaware River Waterfront after a gratifyingly successful day saving the world as AmeriCorps members.

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