VolunteerMonthFYIF

National Volunteer Month is held each April to promote and celebrate volunteerism. In addition this year, April 18-24, 2021 was National Volunteer Week which gave us an opportunity to recognize and appreciate those who serve our community. The Department of Pediatrics at UAB and Children’s’ of Alabama are committed to community engagement and the further expansion of our community engagement efforts.

Community Engagement is the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting their well-being. It is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members. It often involves partnerships and coalitions that help mobilize resources and influence systems, change relationships among partners, and serve as catalysts for changing policies, programs, and practices (CDC, 1997). It is this kind of comprehensive and meaningful engagement that we continue to seek.

We have formed a subcommittee of Community Engagement under the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. Utilizing principles of community engagement we have begun to define the purposes and goals of our engagement efforts. Our goals are to engage in the community in ways that: 1) promote diversity, equity and inclusion; 2) promote learning about the diverse experiences and history of our community and; 3) address health disparities affecting infants, children, and adolescents in our community.

Recognizing the stark health disparities caused by COVID-19 throughout our community many of our recent activities have included providing COVID-19 testing, educational forums in community settings and virtually, and providing COVID-19 vaccinations, personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer. Thank you to all of you who have participated. Our vaccination opportunities will be evolving to include more community sites at more community friendly times such as the evenings and weekends. Please continue to look for these opportunities in FYI Fridays.

There is also an opportunity to engage in a safe space with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and other community partners to form healing circles. In these circles, community members come to absorb, reflect and share the significance of the trauma caused by acts of police shootings including the death of George Floyd and begin healing and thinking about interventions. A flyer for these healing circles can also be found here. Remember we are all part of multiple communities.

Another fundamental principle of community engagement is to become knowledgeable about a community’s culture, economic conditions, social networks, political and power structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with efforts by outside groups to engage it in various programs. By collaborating with and learning from community members and partners, the subcommittee will provide opportunities for individuals to become more knowledgeable and learn about the community’s perceptions of engagement activities.

In our efforts to learn more about the vast nature of the community engagement efforts that are ongoing in the Department of Pediatrics and our current partners, a survey will be sent out in May. We would greatly appreciate your prompt completion of this survey. Please know that new members are welcomed to our committee. Please feel free to reach out to me with any comments or questions. Thank you for your many acts of service and kindness.

Sincerely,

Tamera Coyne-Beasley, M.D., MPH, FAAP, FSAHM
Vice-Chair for Community Engagement
Division Director, Adolescent Medicine

Below are some ways that you can help out the UAB community this month and throughout the year.

BlazerPulse
BlazerPulse is the community engagement platform designed to connect UAB students, faculty, and staff with community partners. Find opportunities to get involved in our community at BlazerPulse.

Benevolent Fund
The mission of the UAB Benevolent Fund is to better our community by providing support to UAB employees in need and local nonprofits. The Benevolent Fund enlists UAB employees to support charitable agencies through voluntary contributions and provides support to UAB employees through Benevolent Fund Council approved programs.