This summer I had the pleasure of working with Amber Harrison who is the Town of York’s local Health and Code Enforcement Officer. My position was funded by the Wheaton Edge and was created to support the York Health Task Force. The York Health Task Force was created by the Town of York to provide resources during the pandemic focused on mental health. It was made up of healthcare professionals, town officials, social service agencies, school personnel, therapists, gym owners, yoga instructors to name a few. We met weekly to discuss and brainstorm new topics for the next newsletter. Some of the newsletter themes around mental health included: laughter; sleep; screen time; benefits of getting out in nature; kindness; staycation; anxiety; and weighing your risk.
My weekly schedule started on Monday with a Task Force meeting where we discussed a theme and what Task Force members would like to contribute. I created a deadline for all submissions to be sent to me by Wednesday giving me enough time to pull everything together for the newsletter. By Thursday around 2 pm, I would have submissions imputed and formatted into the application, Publisher. I would send out reminder messages to those who had not yet sent their submission. I would meet with Amber and go over the newsletter page by page and we would discuss changes, additions, and deletions. After the meeting, I would make the edits, submit it to Amber who would send it out to the community on Friday.
One of the most memorable moments from this experience was the weekly Zoom meetings where I interacted with and learned from a group of amazing people, from my community. I was given opportunities to lead meetings and learned how to lead a group of Task Force members, who were older than me. I respected them and they respected me. I realized that you earn respect when you are kind, easy to work with, do your part, support the group, and meet deadlines. We were connected by a common goal – to put out a weekly newsletter focused on mental health that was informative and created to help people in our community.
My internship started at the beginning of the pandemic when a lot of information about COVID-19 was still unknown. Our job as the Task Force was to provide resources and updates to the community during a time when so many people were feeling scared and isolated. People in my community, perhaps unknowingly, were experiencing similar situations and emotions. In the newsletter, we wanted to bring home that getting through this pandemic is a community effort and that we could work our way through it together. We received feedback that the resources, information, and stories that were presented in the weekly newsletter were received positively by community members. As a Task Force, we came together in a very scary and unknown time to work together to achieve a common goal of providing comfort to our community through the content of a weekly newsletter.