This summer I am lucky to have the opportunity to work as an intern for the Chenango United Way through the Upstate Institute Summer Field School. The United Way is a global nonprofit organization that works to strengthen communities in three areas: health, income, and education. The United Way in Norwich serves townships in Chenango County, fundraising and then reallocating donations to the most robust local nonprofits and programs. The United Way is unusual in that it does not serve one specific population or problem. Instead, the organization focuses on entire communities and addresses the ever-changing issues that a town or village may face within the three focus areas. Although it is most known for its work in fundraising, the United Way also helps organize community efforts to tackle big problems. By developing community impact teams for health, education and income, the United Way unifies the talent of community leaders to discuss and address area-specific issues. The United Way also works with other community groups, such as the Building a Healthy Community Coalition and the Housing Counsel Coalition, to work on issues like high rates of obesity, widespread substance abuse, persistent homelessness and insufficient affordable housing options. Rather than just giving money to different worthy causes, the United Way is an active participant in every step in long process of community improvement.
As a Fellow with the Upstate Institute Field School this summer, I have had the opportunity to work with Hudson Headwaters Health Network on a number of community health initiatives addressing ongoing public health issues within the local community. Hudson Headwaters is a not-for-profit community healthcare system, comprised of 17 community health centers covering more than 5,000 square miles of the Adirondack North Country and Glens Falls region. For many communities in the region, Hudson Headwaters is the only medical provider serving this rural, medically underserved area, making it an important “safety-net” provider for the region. The founding mission of Hudson Headwaters is “to provide the best health care, and access to that care, for everyone in our communities.” In pursuit of this mission, Hudson Headwaters has continued to be a leader in rural healthcare systems, working with community partners to develop innovative public health programs that increase access to quality healthcare and meet the evolving needs of the local community. I have had the opportunity to work on a couple of these projects, focusing on expanding access to treatment, continuing community outreach and education, and developing relationships with community partners.
Through the Upstate Institute Summer Field School, this summer, I have had the privilege of working as a Fellow at Chenango County’s Hospice & Palliative Care in the Norwich region. Hospice of Chenango County is a relatively small non-profit healthcare organization that specializes in end of life care. Their mission is to provide the highest quality end of life care by partnering with patients, families, and the community. In doing so, Hospice strives to provide pain and symptom control, and give emotional and social support to all their patients and loved ones. Hospice of Chenango County provides three service lines to their residents in the Chenango County: hospice care, to those living in their homes or a contracted skilled nursing facility; palliative care through a collaboration with At Home Care; and Complimentary Grief Services to residents of Chenango County.
Nicole Jackson is completing a Field School project this summer with the Hamilton-based Chenango Nursery School. She is helping the school to improve their data systems by implementing a new database, and by observing the school routines and needs to create reports that will help the teachers access the information they need at different times in the day. The nursery school is a non-profit parent cooperative early childhood program that operates through a mission of encouraging children to learn through play. To Nicole, that mission is evident in the school’s everyday activities, and she’s thoroughly enjoying helping the school to implement that mission, as described in her own words:
The research on New York State’s opioid crisis, conducted by faculty and students at Colgate in collaboration with the Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, will be published in the journal “Drug and Alcohol Dependence.” This article looks at the research on prescribing patterns and opioid overdose morbidity in New York from 2010 through the second quarter of 2016, before mandatory use of the state’s controlled substances database began in August 2013. The research project looked at morbidity (complications and health effects) from overdoses, not mortality, because the numbers are much bigger.
Each year the Upstate Institute recognizes one or more students with our Upstate Institute Award, given to students who have dedicated themselves to supporting our Upstate New York community with outstanding service and scholarship. We are proud to award the 2017 Upstate Institute Award to Chelsea Mohr! Chelsea is a senior Sociology major and Film and Media Studies minor who has provided research support to Madison County’s Community Action Partnership (CAP), an organization coordinating a range of social service resources to area residents. Chelsea first began her work with CAP though Associate Professor of Sociology Janel Benson‘s course on Community Based Research during the Spring 2016 semester, where the class worked with CAP to assess the results of a mentoring program pairing adult mentors with youth ages 8-16. Chelsea then continued this work during Summer 2016 through a research position (again supervised by Prof Benson) that partnered with CAP to assess the long-term impact of their mentoring program, by contacting alumni of the program, now in their late teens and twenties. The results of Chelsea’s research demonstrated the effectiveness of the program, and, in turn, Chelsea and Prof Benson brought this research back to campus earlier this term, where they hosted a well-attended workshop for Colgate students about best practices for mentorship.
Congratulations to Chelsea! And a big thank you to Prof Benson for your support and to CAP for your partnership on these projects.
Dr. Andy Pattison, this year’s Burke Chair of Regional Studies, was busy during Colgate’s celebration of Earth Day and the 13 Days of Green that led up to it. Dr. Pattison hosted two events, including a presentation and Q&A session with Dr. Cameron Brick of the Department of Psychology at Hamilton College (on April 11) and a panel of community members and students engaged through his course on local climate change planning (on April 21).
Below is a guest post from Nezar Mehanna, one of the five students working with local community organizations this year as a part of the Upstate Institute and COVE Community-Based Work Study program:
Currently at SOMAC I am working with the director of operations, Kyle Sylvester, and members of the board to implement a new policy manual to replace the current version. Working through each section and policy gave me great insight into what it means to run an ambulance organization. Flipping through New York State Department of Health laws and reading about the current standards in emergency medicine, such as the controlled substances in each vehicle or proper procedure when attempting rescue operations made me appreciate the responsibilities paramedics in the community take on. My other projects for SOMAC include updating the company’s website, designing the decals that were placed on the new paramedic fly car unit 511, and researching and submitting grant proposals as a part of SOMAC’s capital improvement plan as the organization is working to get the newest life-saving medical equipment for the Hamilton Community.
The Upstate Institute has extended the deadline for applications for the 2017 Summer Field School from Colgate students. Students now have until Friday, March 24 to submit an application for this summer’s fellowships. Applications are available here, along with a list of the projects that will be funded this summer.
Chelsea Mohr, a senior sociology major, and Professor Janel Benson recently co-facilitated a brownbag on effective mentoring at the Max Shacknai COVE. Several campus volunteer organizations attended the workshop, which asked participants to explore their volunteer group’s assumptions about the role of a mentor and how they could improve their outreach and effectiveness. The session was informed by Upstate Institute supported research projects on effective mentoring conducted last year in Professor Benson’s Community-Based Participatory Research Course and Chelsea Mohr’s student-initiated summer research.