The Jefferson Family Health Fund is the non-profit branch of our practice. We received our 501(c)(3) in December 2015 in hopes of increasing our public health programming. Since the Jefferson Family Health Fund’s formation, we have hosted volunteers from different fellowships and made strides in public health projects that have benefited our patients as well as the local community.
In 2016, we served as a host site for the Rochester Urban Fellows program which is facilitated by the University of Rochester. Rochester Urban Fellows is a 10-week summer program for local undergraduates who attend a Rochester-area college or are native to Rochester and attend college elsewhere. Participants have opportunities to develop personal and professional skills, increase their understanding of urban issues and poverty, and develop emotional ties to Rochester.
Students serve with local community organizations for approximately 30 hours per week to create, expand, or support a number of different initiatives. Within the 10 weeks she was with us, our urban fellow, Trisha Arora, set up exercise opportunities for patients that included Qi-Gong classes and a walking group that met weekly. She also facilitated a 3 week vegan eating challenge for our patients and applied for and received a grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation that was used to compensate exercise instructors and purchase equipment. Trisha also set up a healthy cooking class so patients could learn how to prepare healthier meals and helped to implement our backyard vegetable gardens at patients’ homes.
We began to serve as a host site for Rochester Youth Year, a year-long, AmeriCorps VISTA fellowship also run through the U of R, in August 2017. Rochester Youth Year matches recent graduates from local area colleges with community agencies to create, expand, or sustain initiatives that alleviate the effects of poverty on Rochester youth and families. As AmeriCorps VISTA members, Rochester Youth Year fellows provide indirect, capacity building service.
This means that they do not directly support clients, but instead create sustainable systems, processes, and infrastructure for their partner organization to more efficiently and effectively provide those supports. So far, our VISTA, Jianna Howard, has continued our exercise programming by running the walking group and starting a weekly biking group in the fall, and setting up indoor exercise classes throughout the winter at a local church that are completely free for patients and anyone else that wants to join. She has also worked to improve health outcomes for patients by cleaning up our electronic medical record system, tracking patients in need of preventive screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, and scheduling said screenings. We are currently managing a community vegetable garden on Magnolia Street that selected patients and community members utilize as a means for fresh produce.
At Jefferson Family Medicine, we are passionate about continuously improving our practice as well as the local community. We are able to provide a more hands-on approach through the Jefferson Family Health Fund.