Emma is currently serving as a Wellness Coordinator at Family Care Health Centers (FCHC), a beloved health care center in St. Louis, providing comprehensive holistic primary health care for those who may otherwise not have access to services because of economic status or lack of insurance. For several years, Loretto Volunteers have worked in this dynamic position alongside skilled doctors and staff with opportunities to create projects unique to their healthcare interests. Past projects include: planning wellness fairs highlighting good nutrition and dental care, one-on-one counseling with patients including behavioral assessments, living wills, family planning as well as re-designing educational and group activities for parents and children. Learn more about Emma's great work at FCHC below!
My work at Family Care Health Center is as diverse as the clinic itself! Family Care strives to provide wholesome and unique care for each patient, and my job is to help with the programs and projects of the clinic to make that happen. As someone interested in pursuing public health work, this position has already taught me a lot about how health clinics work and healthcare in general.
On any given day I may be meeting with patients, designing patient education materials, or planning community outreach events...sometimes all in the same day! Some of my favorite work so far has meeting with older patients about their living wills and meeting with female patients for birth control counseling. I also loved helping run a luncheon for breast cancer and domestic violence awareness for our female patients – it was really empowering! I do not always know what is in store for me at work, but the work is always rewarding.
The community I have with Nia and Ari in Saint Louis is different than any other community I’ve ever lived with. In the past I lived in communities formed because of my friendships, which was really fun, but what’s different about my current community is that our community was formed because we share the values of the Loretto program.
I love that my housemates are passionate and knowledgeable about their experiences and for justice; it makes sharing and talking with each other easy and deep. Of course we are friends and have fun just in living together, but for me I love that we are all rooted in similar passions of fighting injustice, communication, and peace – it’s unlike any home I’ve experienced before.
Moving to a new city has been both and challenging and rewarding experience. Since the beginning of this program, I’ve had the opportunity to define and be myself because no one here has any pretext of who I am. This is rewarding because I feel that I’ve been my genuine self, but it is challenging because this has caused me to question and ask “who am I?”
I genuinely love people that are older, which makes living next-door to the community of sisters in St. Louis fun. When I spend time with each of the sisters, I not only get to hear about their experience and insights but also I get to receive their boundless support.
I also enjoy the company of the many lay member of the order, who have welcomed myself and my housemates into their homes and work. It has made the transition to living in this city smoother and heart-felt.
Something I am still learning, and I encourage future volunteers to consider, is to value everyday life experience. As someone who was fortunate to go to college, it feels odd to not be in a classroom and not be in what many consider a “real job”. Sometimes it feels like I’m not a real adult as my peers around me push forward into relationships and promotions.
But I feel that the experiences I’m having now teach me new things every day that I may have missed if I worried myself with achieving my lifetime goals now. Doing volunteer work may not be considered a “real” job or a volunteer position may not be exactly fit your career goals, but I truly believe and am experiencing the blessing that comes with slowing down and taking time to serve – because in these everyday moments I’m learning more about myself and my community, and not just achieving goals.
So in short, I guess I just want to say that volunteer work is critically valuable time to learn about yourself and about a new community – and that’s about as “real” as it gets.