Name: Samantha Sitarz
Major: Cell & Molecular Biology
Hometown: Northfield, OH
Which community partner will you be writing about? Briefly describe their mission and the population they serve.
University Hospitals Rainbow Connects program serves the high-needs Medicaid patient population of Cleveland by providing moms, pregnant women, and families with resources for rental assistance, utility assistance, baby supplies, and food. Rainbow Connects utilizes volunteers to visit patients in the clinic and through telephonic outreach. Volunteers are trained in the available community resources and employ empathic listening skills when speaking one-on-one with patients.
What values, opinions, beliefs have changed as a result of your service-learning experience?
As a result of my Rainbow Connects experience, I have become more open-minded and conscious of others. I am better at listening to people and being able to understand the importance of connection among individuals. I understand that for people who have been marginalized, it is important to not just use a band-aid solution but to work for and believe in social change. I see the value of diversity and engaging individuals of all races, genders, and beliefs into our society today. I understand how unjust systems in this country have put people of color aside, keeping them in systems of poverty.
What learning occurred for you in this experience? How can you apply this learning?
I have learned so much from my service at Rainbow Connects over the past few years. I have learned that there are many barriers people in poverty face when meeting everything that they need to support a family. I have seen firsthand the impacts that systemic racism has on communities and the minority populations in those communities. I have learned that there is a lot more to an individual's health than just their outside, physical symptoms. Everything that is happening in a patient's life either mental, physical, or environmental is going to impact a patient's overall health and well-being. It is important to address all of these needs in healthcare and not just an individual's immediate health concerns. As a future osteopathic physician, I will be able to apply this learning when speaking with and treating my own patients one day. It is an experience for which I will be forever grateful.