Day 4: Checking it Twice

Up all night with the Church Health folks
Preparing Christmas cards for delivery

Preparing Christmas cards for delivery

Upon my arrival at Church Health tonight, volunteer coordinator Rebekah Heacock presented me with two options for helping with their annual Christmas card fundraising program. The first option was to hand write the cards and address the corresponding envelopes. I briefly described the quality of my penmanship with a few colorful adjectives, which seemed to settle the matter immediately. Rather than spoiling perfectly good Christmas cards with my indecipherable scrawl, I would be matching completed cards and envelopes to a list of names and addresses to check for errors. This turn of events really couldn’t have worked out better, as I have a deep and abiding love of proofreading.

Development staff member Ken Hall arrived shortly thereafter with refreshments. A small group of us snacked and worked through the evening, making the kind of light, fragmented conversation that happens when people try to talk while simultaneously focusing on a task. The topic frequently came back around to Church Health’s imminent move to the Crosstown Concourse in early 2017. Their excitement was about more than just the increase in space. Church Health has been spread out in over a dozen different buildings up until this point, and all of their facilities and programs will now be housed under one roof.

Up all night with the Church Health folks

Up all night with the Church Health folks

Time seemed to pass quickly, as it often does for me when I am poring over a text in search of a misspelled name or forgotten ZIP code. I triumphantly announced the few errors I found and even permitted myself to re-address one envelope (very, very carefully). Mostly, I marveled at the variety of destinations for all of the cards. Many would go to people in Memphis, while others were headed to Florida, New York, and California. I wondered how many of the people receiving these cards know about the work Church Health does in Memphis for our uninsured community members. I hoped they would understand that the cards they received represented a small portion of the funds necessary for this organization to continue providing those services and expand into their magnificent new facility.

With Christmas only 10 days away, I recalled that I still had presents to procure for my own friends and family. I regretted that I hadn’t been savvy enough to order Christmas cards that would double as gifts and also be mailed for me. Rather than waste energy scolding myself for poor holiday shopping skills and lousy handwriting, however, I reminded myself that I had an immediate opportunity to do something to help make a difference. I had hundreds of cards in front of me representing thousands of dollars in donations to an organization that literally saves people’s lives, so I turned back to my list to do what I do best.

Find out more about volunteering with Church Health by visiting www.churchhealthcenter.org/volunteer. For additional information about their move to the Crosstown Concourse, view their video online.

Day 1: We will Rock You!

Hey now, it's the Memphis train!

Rock for Love to Benefit the Church Health Center  was my introduction to Volunteer Odyssey.  I wondered what to expect as I prepped for my day of supervising the children’s play area; then I thought of my countless previous volunteer experiences.  I knew that going in prepared to experience, learn and share was the best preparation for my day.  Upon my arrival set-up and sound check was taking place.   The day would be full of performances by Memphis musicians, including Idle&Wild, Knowledge Nick with Chinese Connection Dub Embassy and River City Tanlines.  Some of the artists utilize the services of Church Health Center.

I got photo bombed!

I got photo bombed by Kid President!!

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Founded in 2007, Rock for Love has grown from one concert to become the must-see concert weekend of the late summer with several concerts at multiple well-known venues. To date, Rock for Love has raised more than $200,000 for the Center.

Hey now, it’s the Memphis train!

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The Stax Music Academy takes the stage!

Gravity defying moments on the Grizzlies' moon bounce!

Gravity defying moments on the Grizzlies’ moon bounce!

I found Jerica Sandifer, CHC Development Scholar; she had been my point of contact for my Odyssey with her non-profit.  I then changed into my volunteer t-shirt to get my day started.  With that change, I instantly felt a part of the team.  Upon seeing “volunteer” on the back of my shirt, I was greeted by CHC staff.  The each thanked me for being a helping hand for the day.

I was stationed at the inflatable bounce sponsored by the Grizzlies; I ensured the safety of children.  In addition to some great laughs while watching the kids bounce in defiance of gravity, I also met and exchanged business cards with more CHC staff.  Richard Kohrs, Development Specialist, told me more about the CHC and answered questions about their services.

I knew beforehand that the CHC offered affordable health care to the Memphis and Shelby County residents.  However, Richard told me more about their plans and how they individualize these affordable plans to meet the needs of each person.  I learned that the CHC is a health resource for people such as entrepreneurs, musicians and people whose employers don’t offer medical insurance.  The CHC is on a mission to ensure “healthy bodies and spirits for all.”

My day at Rock for Love wrapped-up with experiencing the Stax Music Academy take the stage and move the crowd to a soulful beat!  With the heart, love and spirit that the put into their performance it didn’t even cross my mind that they were singing chart topping hits that were a few generations older than them such as, “Memphis Train,” “Love and Happiness” and “Hold On.”  The students engaged the crowd from the stage and on the floor as they danced with the audience and willingly taught eager fans the moves that they were willing to try with them.

It started with a little sprinkle while the Stax Music Academy was on stage; before they closed the sky opened with a heavy rain.  But the songs and the dances continued through storm.  I thought of some visual art that I created and printed with the quote, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Dancing in the rain with the Stax Music Academy also reminded me of the support system of the CHC for people that have a determination to live out their dreams of being an entrepreneur or possibly a musician.  Something like that comes with the realness of not having health care options, which could be a storm.  However, they have partners like the Church Health Center to dance with them in the rain.

I’m Cristalynne Dupree; feel free to call me Crista. I’m a Memphis “re-transplant” by choice.

Come back and check out my blog, keep me company along my Volunteer Odyssey Forward journey. Leave a comment; tell me what you think about my journey, it will be inspiring. Peace.

Thank you for reading! Like what you read? With more than 10 years experience, Cristalynne Dupree is searching for a job where she will use her marketing, public relations and communications skill to coordinate strategies and tactics that will reach and engage the organization’s target.  Contact her at 1225Cristalynne@gmail.com or jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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“Preach, Teach, and Heal”

Alexandra is my name and copyediting is my game.

Day 7. The final stop on my Volunteer Odyssey journey. Founded in 1987 by Dr. Scott Morris, The Church Health Center provides health care for those who are uninsured. Today

Dr. Morris and me

Dr. Morris and me

it is known as the largest faith-based health center in the country and serves more than 46,000 patients at its clinic annually.  Its mission states, “The Church Health Center seeks to reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and our spirits.” Nowhere does it proclaim specifically “in Memphis,” and the CHC serves as a model for other participants in the faith-health movement around the world. It hosts Replication workshops throughout the year for anyone interested in initiating their own faith-based healthcare center as well as hosts the 2014 Westberg Symposium, which will take place at the end of April. In addition to its medical clinic, the CHC provides dental and eye care, social services, counseling, and physical therapy and has trained more than 1,000 congregational health promoters and faith community nurses.

I spoke with Marvin Stockwell, the CHC’s communications director, who explained mankind

Marvin and Jeff loaded me up with great CHC gear!

Marvin and Jeff loaded me up with great CHC gear!

holds a responsibility where faith and health link up. While the CHC has a special connection with the Methodist church as Dr. Morris is an ordained United Methodist pastor, it embraces non-denominational Christian values. Marvin believes the CHC acts as the hands and feet of Christ, trying to repair the world.  The staff is here to help the community, and there is great need in Memphis, one of the poorest cities in the country. However, the CHC is not just a clinic for the poor. For people to learn how to be and stay healthy, the CHC offers a plethora of programs and opportunities like cooking, exercise, nutrition, and wellness education classes. The CHC magazine, Church Health Reader, has even won multiple “Best of Christian Press” awards and can be found at www.chreader.org.

Marvin also told me the story of how the Perea Preschool came to be. In 1999, the CHC was looking into building a North Memphis satellite office and found that first graders in the area were not as advanced as they should be academically and socially. The CHC created a preschool for 48 3 year-olds to offer an environment where the children could thrive and mature according to schedule. This year, the children from the first Perea class are graduating from high school and have caught up to their peers developmentally. Education is also a healthcare issue because the students usually perform better when they are in good health. Today, the Perea Preschool serves 128 3 and 4 year-olds. What an incredible mission!

One thing I noticed during my visit to the CHC was that everyone was very passionate about their jobs and seemed truly happy there. Marvin asserted, “It’s not a boring place to work at

Alexandra, Jennie, and Carrie supporting the "Walking As One" event.

Alexandra, Jennie, and Carrie supporting the “Walking As One” event.

all. I’m coming up on 10 years in October and I love it.” The staff I assisted, including Jeff Hulett, the communications supervisor, and other members of the team, Alison and Colins, showed camaraderie in their mutual respect for another and lots of laughter, which is critical to a healthy work life. My role amongst the group was to copyedit articles for the newsletter and I had a blast! It reminded me of my teaching days when I used to grade papers and I was so happy to lend a critical eye to help improve the pieces. Jeff was kind enough to print out all of the articles for me because I prefer to read hard copies of materials. I absolutely enjoyed reviewing the stories and interviews as well as conversing with the team. While working there, I even saw three of my friends, one of whom I didn’t previously know worked at the CHC. The other two, Jennie and Carrie, were friends met through the Junior League of Memphis’ LEAD program.

Coming up on April 26th at 2:00 p.m. is the CHC’s “Walking as One,” which will take place at the Church Health Center Wellness on Union Avenue. It’s free, and here is where the plot thickens: An anonymous donor has pledged $20 for every person that participates. What a fantastic and easy way to raise money for a phenomenal organization. To register for the event, sign up at walkingasone.org and to volunteer, contact Jennie Dickerson at 901-701-2097 or dickersonj@churchhealthcenter.org.

The Church Health Center has plans to move to Sears Crosstown in approximately two

Alexandra is my name and copyediting is my game.

Alexandra is my name and copyediting is my game.

years.  Right now, there are currently 13 buildings providing CHC services and a 10-month waiting list to become an established patient at the clinic. By moving into one large space, it will be able to serve a larger amount of people more timely and efficiently. The CHC is privately funded and prides itself on providing consistent care, meaning that patients are examined by the same doctor every visit.

I am excited to witness the progress and expansion of the Church Health Center, and some staff members even asked me to come back to volunteer with the communications team! To learn more about the Church Health Center and all of the programs it offers, visit www.churchhealthcenter.org.

Even though my week of service through Volunteer Odyssey is over, my journey has only begun. Stay tuned for my Epilogue!

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job in writing, event planning, communications, or teaching. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com or aesamsell@gmail.com.

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Hold the Mayo

VO 080

VO 080

The demonstration kitchen at the CHC Wellness Center reminds me of the set of a cooking show. There’s lots of gleaming stainless steel and a seemingly endless supply of prep bowls. My first task is grating reduced fat cheddar cheese, brick after brick. Nutrition staff Carolyn Nichols and Jimmy Hoxie will do their healthy cooking demonstration four times today, at 9:00, 10:30, 4:00, and 5:30, so they need lots of ingredients prepared ahead of time. All of the healthy recipes demonstrated in the kitchen are developed by the staff here at CHC, and designed to show participants healthier ways to prepare old favorites and new ingredients to introduce into their diets.

I crushed up the crackers too. I know, I'm quite the chef!

I crushed up the crackers too. I know, I’m quite the chef!

For some of the participants, healthy diets are a matter of life and death. It is estimated that 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S. result from preventable diseases, often referred to as “lifestyle diseases”. This number increases drastically among low income individuals, particularly between the ages of 45 and 64. Diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, liver diseases, and some forms of cancer are largely preventable or manageable with a healthy lifestyle. Carolyn and the rest of the nutrition staff are an important resource for the clients hoping to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the cooking classes, the wellness staff consults with patients recommended by the medical staff, giving them personalized advice about how diet and exercise can affect their health.

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Today’s class is all about ways to maintain health goals during the holidays. Carolyn stirs the cheese I grated into a béchamel made with skim milk, preparing the sauce for a healthy broccoli casserole. The traditional thanksgiving staple has more than 300 calories per serving, but Carolyn’s slimmed down version clocks in at a mere 120. She’s also done a recipe makeover on traditional southern squash casserole using light sour cream, reducing the cheese quantity, and subbing in whole wheat crackers. While the casseroles bake, the participants go over a handout featuring tips about staying healthy during the holidays, and the lively discussion keeps the onlookers engaged until it’s finally time to taste Carolyn’s efforts. I can verify that the slimmed down casseroles are delicious!

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Yum!

The Church Health Center is dedicated to providing healthcare for low income working families in Memphis, a population that is woefully uncared for medically. Because of this lack of healthcare, more than 13,000 patients in Shelby County are admitted to area hospitals with symptoms and conditions that could be prevented by healthy lifestyle choices. The staff at the Wellness Center knows this statistic well, and are helping to educate and encourage the behavior change in those who seek their help. This issue is particularly important to me because for years I worked processing disability claims for an attorney, and I saw firsthand the significant damage that an unhealthy lifestyle and irregular medical care can cause. We can all learn to take a little better care of ourselves. I’d recommend starting with Carolyn’s Broccoli Casserole!

 

Thank you for reading! I am looking for a position with a non-profit that will allow me to use my communication, fundraising, and special event planning skills to impact development at an organization making a positive difference in Memphis. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

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Week 12, Day 3: Michael Garcia at Green Machine

Michael Garcia on the Green Machine at Advance Memphis.

Today I volunteered with the Green Machine, a mobile food market. I met the Green Machine at its first stop of the day, Wesley Madison Towers, an assisted living complex. Sarah, the founder of Volunteer Odyssey, joined me and we waited for the Green Machine to show up. We weren’t the only ones waiting for the Green Machine either. There was a whole crowd outside Wesley Madison Towers, and they were all eagerly awaiting the their arrival. Several of them discovered that Sarah and I were there to work with the Green Machine, and they politely pestered us about when it would arrive because it was running slightly late. I reassured them that it would be there, and sure enough, it arrived a few minutes later.

The Green Machine arrives at Wesley Madison Towers.

The Green Machine arrives at Wesley Madison Towers.

The Green Machine is a MATA bus that has been remodeled into a mobile food market with shelves of fresh produce and dry goods. It operates Monday through Friday and runs a different route each day of the week, stopping several places each day. The aim of the Green Machine is to provide quality produce at competitive prices in areas where access to good fruits and vegetables is limited. It’s called the Green Machine not only because it offers fresh greens, it is also literally a green machine. The exterior is painted bright green with pictures of produce, a work of art by the students of Hollis Price Middle College High School. The Green Machine also provides valuable nutritional information, offering a variety of pamphlets on healthy eating and different recipe cards supplied by the Church Health Center.

Sarah and I met Aaron, who drives the bus, Karlita, who operates the register on board, and Rachel, who helps run things behind the scenes. We were put to work helping customers with their purchases. One friendly gentleman was not able to go in the bus because he gets around in a wheelchair. So I had him tell me what he wanted and I went on the bus and got it for him and brought it back to him. Aaron often does this for many of the customers, and I was happy to help out in this way. I also carried quite a few watermelons into Wesley Madison Towers for residents and staff. It was a hot and humid day, so the watermelons were popular, along with cantaloupe and peaches. Whenever there was a lack of customers, I helped restock shelves and mop the floor.

Michael Garcia restocking shelves on the Green Machine.

Michael Garcia restocking shelves on the Green Machine.

At noon we closed up shop at Wesley Madison Towers and headed to the next stop, Advance Memphis on Vance Ave, an organization that is no stranger to Volunteer Odyssey. Advance Memphis was founded to help revitalize the 38126 zip code area of South Memphis, one of the poorest neighborhoods not only in Memphis, but in the nation. When we arrived at Advance Memphis, the Green Machine was running low on produce, so Sarah and I made a run to their supplier, Easy-Way Produce. When we got back to the Green Machine, there were several people waiting for the grapes, peaches and cantaloupes we brought back.

Michael Garcia restocking the Green Machine with more peaches.

Michael Garcia restocking the Green Machine with more peaches.

Michael Garcia resupplying the Green Machine with an order from Easy-Way Produce.

Michael Garcia resupplying the Green Machine with an order from Easy-Way Produce.

When we were done at Advance Memphis, Aaron and Karlita had their lunch break, so I tagged along with Rachel to several places to drop off Green Machine flyers to let people know when and where it would stop, including Barry Towers and Legends Park. While driving around to drop off the flyers, Rachel and I had an interesting conversation in which she briefed me about the background of the Green Machine and how it developed out of a project concerned with housing redevelopment and urban planning. The main thing I learned from the conversation is that housing development is a complex issue.

Rachel explaining the Green Machine to Michael.

Rachel explaining the Green Machine to Michael.

Michael and Rachel with the Green Machine outside Advance Memphis.

Michael and Rachel with the Green Machine outside Advance Memphis.

I utterly enjoyed my volunteer experience on the Green Machine. I was really struck by the overwhelmingly positive response everyone had. The residents of Wesley Madison Towers were incredibly grateful for the service provided. Almost everyone there showered me and the others on the Green Machine with enthusiastic thanks. One of the residents, Don, talked to Sarah and myself at length at how great it was for him to be able to buy fresh produce right outside Wesley Madison Towers. His only other option for getting fresh produce entails a long bus ride, which is not ideal when you are carrying a bunch of groceries. Don, like myself, likes to cook, and he entertained us with a recipe for stuffed cabbage. Mrs. Bird, one of the staff members at Wesley Madison Towers, also spoke to Sarah and myself about how wonderful the Green Machine is. She emphasized how important it was for the residents to have regular access to healthy food. It was the same everywhere I went with the Green Machine. Everyone was excited to see the big green bus, happy to buy fresh produce, and generous in their praise for the idea. The people behind the Green Machine certainly hit upon a brilliant idea when they came up with a mobile food market to bring produce to people that otherwise would not have access to it. I am glad to have helped out today and I hope to volunteer with the Green Machine again. I took some recipe cards home with me as souvenirs. I’m thinking of trying the recipe for “Simple Summer Succotash”.

Michael Garcia on the Green Machine at Advance Memphis.

Michael Garcia on the Green Machine at Advance Memphis.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job as an historical consultant, researcher or educator. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com.

Cheers,
Michael

My profile pages:

LinkedIn
Academia.edu

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Week 10, Day 4: Rae-Anne Pitts at the Church Health Center

Cleaning up after the class.

Today, was the day I was most excited about when I received my volunteer schedule. I volunteered in the Nutrition Kitchen, at the Church Health Center Wellness Center. I had heard of the Church Health Center. Most of the Church Health Center is located on Peabody Ave in Midtown. But, I had never been to the Church Health Center Wellness Center, which is located on Union Ave. The Wellness Center offers exercise facilities, fitness classes, smoking cessation counseling, health education, and nutritional cooking classes.  I had the opportunity to take place in the nutritional cooking classes. Cooking classes are held on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Thursdays, the day I volunteered, the cooking classes are held at 9 am, 10:30 am, and 4 pm. Thursdays at the wellness center are community days; which means that the center is open to members and non-members, making Thursdays quite busy.

I love to cook and try new recipes so I felt very prepared for this day of my volunteer odyssey. When I arrived in the Nutrition Kitchen, Carolyn and Jimmy, greeted me. Carolyn is the nutritionist and instructor and Jimmy is her assistant. Carolyn explained how the classes and kitchen work; then promptly got me into a hat and apron, putting me to work. I chopped cilantro, and broccoli; I had happened to come on vegetable day.  That meant lots of chopping was necessary.

Carolyn teaching the class how to make salsas.

Carolyn teaching the class how to make salsas.

Then, when I finished my chopping duties, it was time to begin the 9 am class. On this particular vegetable day we made salsa two ways, and marinated vegetables. The first salsa we made was mango; it features black beans, corn, pineapple, and mangoes.  For our next recipe, we made a fresh tomato salsa; that used fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, bell pepper, and garlic; it was made in the food processor. After Carolyn, the nutritionist and instructor, finished her demonstration, making these salsas, I passed out samples to all of the class attendees. We almost had a full house for this class, about 20 people. Following the salsas, we made the marinated vegetables; which incorporated carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms.  When this was finished, I also passed out samples.  After this class I cleaned the student stations, and helped prep for the next class. We then did it all over again for the 10:30 class.

Cleaning up after the class.

Cleaning up after the class.

I really enjoyed my time with Carolyn and Jimmy in the nutrition kitchen; the goal of these cooking classes is to demonstrate how to easily cook healthier foods. Vegetable day showed those in the class how easy, and delicious it can be to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. The nutrition kitchen teaches how to cook what they already know, in a healthier way, and to expose people to foods they may not have tried before. The day I volunteered many people had never eaten mangoes. I would love to go back for another cooking class, and I think most of us could benefit from eating healthier.

 

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job in public policy, non-profit administration, or social science research. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com or raeannepitts@gmail.com

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Week 7, Day 4: Alicia Wooten at Church Health Center

Today I was able to volunteer at the Church Health Center’s dental clinic. Since graduating from dental hygiene school, it has been about a month since I have seen a patient. I was anxious and excited, and hoped my skills weren’t lost; thankfully it was like riding a bike.

Day 4 1 Day 4 2

The hygienists were so welcoming and took time to get me set up and familiar with the clinic. They showed me where all the supplies were, how to use the computer system, and getting my patient back. After becoming familiar with everything, I was off to get my patient.

My mom is a nurse, so healthcare in our house has always been top priority. I grew up going to the dentist every six months and to a physician once a year for a physical. We always had health insurance too. By having health insurance and a mom in the health care field we were also able to research the best doctors and practices and choose who our doctors are. For those that do not have health insurance, there are few options, and health care, including dental care, becomes less of a priority. During my time in school I started to understand the need of clinics like Church Health Center Dental Clinic. In today’s economy and current job crisis, many families are either having to choose between dental and vision insurance, or unfortunately have no choice because they have lost their insurance all together. Church Health Center provides services for those who are uninsured. The payments are based on income, on a sliding scale, and the staff is there to work with the needs of the patients. To cut down on prices, the clinic also has a lab it uses for fabrications of restorations. Unfortunately, there is such a need for medical centers like Church Health Center, that there is a long waiting list to be seen. But, fortunately Church Health Center is here to serve. The dental clinic is staffed by both volunteer dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dentists and as well as a full-time dental team. Due to the fact some patients have never been to or it has been several years since seeing a dentist they require several appointments and recall visits. The staff makes sure to take the time to explain the treatment plan to each patient, letting them know what to expect at each appointment.

I was fortunate to grow up with insurance, so going to the dentist was never scary, and never took more than an hour for a cleaning. For most patients coming to Church Health Center, this is not the case. Most patients have repeat appointments to remove the calculus (bacteria) that has formed under the gum line. (I won’t bore you with all of the implications of not having regular appointments). These appointments are somewhat uncomfortable and for the new patient can be scary. Today, I saw two patients who were returning for maintenance appointments. Before each patient, I read the clinical notes and was hopeful to see improvement. The patients had several initial appointments to thoroughly clean out the calculus/bacteria and assess any need for restorations. I was amazed to see the progress these patients have made. These patients listen and follow instructions (floss, floss, FLOSS) because they want to save their teeth and do not want to have to long appointments they had when they started. They are proud to smile now and that is one reason I love my field! Today was a day that reminded me why I want to be a dental hygienist. As much as I love the quick and easy appointments, the patients who are listening to you and are motivated to improve their oral health care, are the ones who make me walk out with a smile.

Day 4 3 Day 4 4

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job as a Dental Hygienist. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com or to aliciawooten@gmail.com

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Week 6, Day 4: Brittany Tuggle at Church Health Center

Today I stepped way out of my comfort zone by cooking and trying tofu. I rarely have the chance to cook at home,  and I have never eaten tofu.

I volunteered my limited culinary talents to one of the Church Health Center’s cooking classes. The center also offers many fitness classes and events for the entire family. Church Health Center is a great place to learn how to make small changes in your diet can make a big difference. All of the recipes featured in the class are quick, healthy, and easy to prepare.Both dishes were under 200 calories per serving and took less than an hour to make. On today’s menu was a delicious orange chili tofu with broccoli and a creamy chocolate mousse made with silken tofu.

The cooking instructors, Carolyn and Jimmy, explained to a skeptical class the benefits of using tofu as a protein substitute. Once we learned about how its lack of strong flavor or smell makes it easy to incorporate it into any of our favorite recipes, we came around to how versatile an ingredient it could be. Carolyn also told us that tofu has a longer shelf life than meat, which cuts down on food costs.

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Throughout the morning, Carolyn explained that different types of tofu and their usefulness in different types of dishes. She also explained that cooking the same kind of food can get boring, so they try to provide a variety of recipes in the class. The cost of today’s meal, $20, can feed up to 6.

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To help make sure that no one was intimidated, Carolyn also provided meal plans with the recipes. The meal plans were 1600 calories per day, and included 3 meals and a snack.

After all the chopping, melting, and mixing, we were finally ready to taste the final product.  The orange chili tofu was savory. I could taste the citrus and just a kick of the chipotle chili. It was better than I expected. The tofu was chewy but it tasted good! The chocolate mousse was rich and sweet. It had the same consistency as pudding, but more chocolate flavor. Both dishes got rave reviews from the class. Everyone enjoyed the food, and the idea of tofu for dinner did not seem so terrible. It was amazing how a 20 dollar meal stretched with 10 people. There were even leftovers.

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Thank you to the Church Health Center Wellness team for teaching an amazing class and for sending me home with a few smoothie recipes. The cooking classes are on Thursdays and open to the public. I had a good time, I learned that tofu is a healthy addition to any meal–especially when you add melted chocolate and organic sugar. I will definitely try both recipes at home once my cooking skills improve.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my PR and Marketing knowledge at a nonprofit organization. I am also interested in development, event planning, and fund raising. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

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Week 5, Day 2: Samantha Hicks at Church Health Center

Day two of my journey with Volunteer Odyssey was at Church Health Center. I had heard of it before, however not being from the area I’ve always assumed that it was simply small medical clinic run by a local church; boy was I wrong! When I first drove into the facility, my first thought was that I was at the wrong place. I’d been imagining a small brick building, much like a doctor’s office. In reality, the Church Health Center facility that I had the privilege of volunteering in today is a large, two story building with lots of windows and natural light.

During the summer months every year, the health center hosts a weekly farmers market in their courtyard. It is open not only to the members of the center, but also to the general public. They can shop for locally grown produce, homemade bread, along with all sorts of other local goodies. The day that I was volunteering at the center, also happened to be the kickoff day for this year’s market.IMAG1405On this particular day, there happened to be a couple of health food vendors in attendance which was perfect for me considering I have a thing for food trucks as it is! This being said, naturally, I had to try something. I decided on a green smoothie from the “smoothie lady” and it was amazing! The farmers market is open every Tuesday during the summer months, so you have plenty of opportunities to stop by and shop around, and be sure to grab a green smoothie during your visit!

IMAG1407After finishing my smoothie, I went inside and got to work as I had been assigned to help in the nutrition center. They were hosting a luncheon for a local church group that was interested in learning more about the services that the Nutrition center has available. You may be wondering the same thing, right? I know I was. They offer a variety of different programs, with the most popular being their cooking demonstration classes. IMAG1409These demonstrations are held several times a week, and are aimed at teaching the participants recipes that are not only healthy, but also cost effective and can be easily incorporated into their weekly routines. Carolyn, who leads the demonstrations, explained to me that her goal is to keep an entire meal; dessert included believe it or not, under 600 calories! On this particular day, the meal that was demonstrated and then served to everyone in attendance totaled only 523 calories. I could not believe it! Trust me when I say, we weren’t simply serving a “deck of cards” sized piece of dried out chicken alongside a cup of green beans, which by the way is how my personal version of a healthy meal usually ends up. IMAG1408 Instead the menu consisted of a spring salad with a vinaigrette dressing, orange glazed chicken, healthy, and might I add delicious, fried rice, steamed broccoli, and then for the finale, drum roll please…..banana raspberry squares! IMAG1406Each and every part of the meal was amazing, while the demonstration was also extremely informative. All classes are offered to members of the center, however some classes are open to the public as well. You can stop by and see Carolyn anytime to get a schedule of all the classes.

Carolyn and her staff are teaching participants easy and economical ways to cook in a healthy manner. These small changes are something that can make a huge impact on the health of a community as a whole. Not to mention all of the other programs the center offers; yoga classes, a full gym, and a therapeutic swimming pool, just to name a few. This organization is doing amazing things to help the members of our local community become healthier as a whole. It is such a privilege that these services are available to everyone, including families who might not be able to pay for a gym membership at a local athletic club. If you are in the area I strongly suggest you take a minute to swing by and check out the Church Health Center. It will be well worth your time to take a look around and see the amazing things they have available.

Thank you for reading! I’m searching for a job opportunity where I can apply my social work skills and improve our community. If you know of a great fit, please send it our way: jobleads@volunteerodyssey.com

Want to know more about Samantha? Check out her bio:

http://volunteerodyssey.com/participants/#samantha-hicks

 

Week 5, Day 4: Atina Rizk at the Church Health Center

Looking off into a horizon full of healthy cooking....

Looking off into a horizon full of healthy meals….

I must have driven past the Church Health Center hundreds of times on my way to and from school. The word “health” makes it fit right into the backdrop of the Memphis Medical District, but the CHC uses the word in its broadest sense. They offer classes and facilities to people at a small cost based on family size and income level. The classes include yoga, pilates, diabetes management, smoking cessation, nutrition planning– the list goes on and on. I had the privilege of helping their nutritionist, Carolyn, prepare for her healthy cooking class.

 

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Chopped! These red onions went straight into the freezer, a good way to cut down on prep time during the week.

 

Chef Carolyn teaches several classes a day to members of the CHC. This means lots of ingredients to wash and chop, many little bowls to fill with pre-measured ingredients (don’t we all secretly wish we could cook this way?), and eventually quite a few dishes. Volunteering here was fun for me because I love to just knuckle up on that blade and chop to my heart’s content. On the day I helped, there were apples and leeks to be chopped, eggs to be separated, three different kinds of pepper to measure, and lots of plates to distribute.

Carolyn made brunch food– a lovely leek and egg breakfast casserole and an apple raisin crisp. The class ends with sample helpings, so I can tell you with confidence that both recipes are delicious. The class felt like a live taping of an actual cooking show, complete with the magic oven that has a pre-made version of whatever is being baked. As a person who used to pretend to have her own cooking show, this was amazing to me.

This 80-year old gastronome has many gold medals from the Senior Olympics! She showed me the pictures to prove it.

This 80-year old gastronome has many gold medals from the Senior Olympics! She showed me the pictures to prove it.

The class was extremely informative and quite interactive. My favorite tip: remember to measure the oil that you put into a pan every time. A slip of the hand can double or triple the amount of fat you use to cook! The patrons felt very comfortable asking questions about substitutions or cost-saving tricks. I love that there were young people and older people learning about healthier cooking. This class is not about dealing with existing health concerns by modifying the diet; it is about living a healthier life to prevent these health crises. Carolyn’s mentality is that, in the aggregate, “lots of small changes can lead to big results,” and I agree. I look forward to saying, “Yes chef!” in the future.

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