My name is Jenny Fink and I am thrilled to be working as Growing Up Healthy’s new AmeriCORPS VISTA. Sara Doyle will be leaving soon and I will be picking up where she leaves off and doing my best to fill her very large shoes. After only two days of work here I have already had the opportunity to attend many planning meetings, cook with community members, make friendship bracelets with kids, attend my first Happy Hour, and have successfully memorized Janet’s well-traveled route between Northfield and Fairbault. My favorite events this week were Mondays in the Park and Martes en el Parque which were awesome ways to meet and connect with community members and play with some very cute kids. I truly believe in the importance of feeling community connectedness for personal well-being. I have now personally felt how these particular events bring people together and I look forward to working towards GUH’s mission of increasing community connectedness through facilitating and participating in many more such events in Northfield and Fairbault in the upcoming year.
I also believe that community connectedness is necessary for social change. Although I feel like I’ve only seen the tip of the Growing Up Healthy iceberg, one thing has come up in almost every interaction I’ve had over these last few days. As most of you know, Rice County is currently experiencing serious issues with our social services. These issues are not being adequately addressed by our Commissioners. It will take the whole community coming together as a strong unit to advocate for the changes needed to guarantee our county’s social services and the health of our citizens. How can we come together to fight for important services such as these if we don’t feel connected? In the coming weeks I look forward to working with you to mobilize and educate our community around crucial issues such as this one to work towards systems changes that will promote a healthier Rice County.