Times of trouble and turmoil call us to serve our community for the greater good, but it can be challenging to find outlets for service in the midst of stay-at-home orders and social distancing. Thankfully, in the age of globalism, smart phones and social media, opportunities to engage in remote and digital volunteerism are readily available. Below are some suggestions for virtual volunteerism as well as more traditional forms of service that can be undertaken during the coronavirus crisis.

SPALDING’S Healthy Together COVID-19 PAGE | Resources and information
RELATED BLOG | Ideas for building community through compassion, service

Volunteer Virtually
Just because we’re social distancing, doesn’t mean you have to abandon your desire and call to serve others. Many organizations, nonprofits and businesses are offering remote and virtual volunteer opportunities.

Expand your search for virtual service opportunities on databases such as Idealist and JustServe, which allow you to search by location, type of volunteer gig, and even have options for COVID-19-focused volunteer projects.

Service Apps
Skip the computer and sign up for service opportunities straight from your phone! There are several apps that help connect people to nonprofit organizations and to each other to enhance service and volunteerism around the world.

Check out these great service-focused apps:

  • Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call.
  • Olio connects neighbors with each other and Food Waste Hero volunteers with local businesses, to share food (and other things) rather than chuck them away.
  • Wakie allows users to connect with the right person for any question, moment or life situation – anything from helping someone learn to speak English, to offering assistance with a specialized task, such as tax preparation or grant writing, etc.
  • Blood Donor by the American Red Cross puts the power to save lives in the palm of your hand.

COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program
This is a unique service opportunity available to individuals who have fully recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma in order to help current patients who are battling serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infections. Learn more here.

Make Face Masks
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that all people wear cloth face coverings when in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. You can check out the CDC’s instructions for creating both sew and no sew face masks here.

JOANN’s website also houses several mask making tutorials, as well as information about where and how to donate cloth masks, as part of their Make to Give Response efforts.

Surgical masks and N-95 respirators must continue to be reserved for healthcare professionals.

Check in on Friends, Family, Neighbors
Call, email, text, video chat! There are so many ways to connect these day, physical distance should never truly keep us apart. Take this time as an opportunity to reach out and support those in your community. Maybe it’s picking up a prescription, dropping off groceries or simply calling to say, “Hey, I’m thinking of you!”

Resources for connecting with others:

  • Mutual Aid Networks – local, regional, national, international, and population focused mutual aid networks
  • Wakie mobile app

Follow the Guidelines
Ultimately, one of the best and most effective ways to serve others during this time, is to follow the health guidelines promoted by reputable health organizations such as the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO). By protecting yourself you are protecting your community, by slowing the spread and modeling positive behaviors.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or hand sanitize with a minimum of 60 percent alcohol.
  • Maintain social distancing, such staying home and avoiding close contact with others; maintain at least six feet distance from others whenever possible.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene by covering your face and nose with cloth fabric when around others. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces with an EPA-registered household disinfectant.

Stay Connected to Spalding’s Office of Service Learning
The Office of Service Learning is dedicated to connecting the Spalding community with volunteer and service opportunities. Please contact Anna Foshee, Director of Student Leadership and Service Learning, with any information or inquiries regarding service and volunteerism.

In times of strife, it is easy to pull away from others to focus on self and family and let outside concerns fall by the wayside. In the case of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, often we are not given a choice. We are being asked – sometimes mandated – to isolate ourselves from others. Self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing can feel challenging and lonely, but we must remind ourselves why we are taking these steps – not only to protect ourselves, but most importantly, to protect those in our community that are most vulnerable to contracting the virus.

By acknowledging this, it is clear that at the core, even acts of physical isolation, such as social distancing, are acts of service and compassion for our friends, neighbors and community members who are at the highest risk.

SPALDING COVID-19 PAGE | Resources and info for the students and employees 

Compassion and service, values Mother Catherine Spalding and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth promoted fiercely, are alive on Spalding’s campus today. I am confident that our students, faculty and staff can harness these ideals in the midst of this difficult and often unpredictable pandemic. In fact, we’ve already witnessed students combating the spread of the virus through acts of compassion, by relocating from the residence halls to off-campus housing and by foregoing athletic competitions that require interstate travel. I’m sure there are countless more examples that I am not even aware of.

These students are truly living out Spalding’s mission statement and “meeting the needs of the times in the tradition of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.” Therefore, I challenge you to heed the call of service – to not only consider your own well-being, but to actively fight for the well-being and safety of your community as a whole. Because, isn’t a sense of community the thing we are truly craving during this time of isolation?

The steps necessary to halt the spread of COVID-19 have highlighted how physical isolation and solitude can overwhelm and dishearten us, but we must remember that now, more than ever, we need to stay connected to each other and to our communities.

During this turbulent time, please consider offering your time in service of others, to the degree you are able. Below are some opportunities for community service surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

Dare to Care Food Bank

Dare to Care Food Bank is closely following developments with the COVID-19 challenge, especially for individuals who are food-insecure. The organization prioritizes the health and safety of our community, volunteers, and staff, and is taking extra precautions to safely respond to increased food needs during this time.

Dare to Care is accepting monetary donations (every $1 donated helps provide three meals) as well in-person volunteers. Dare to Care has limited volunteer shifts to 10 volunteers at a time and adjusted their usual volunteer model in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. All volunteers must be at least 14 years old. Learn more about how to support Dare to Care here: https://daretocare.org/covid-19/.

Kentucky Blood Center

Are blood donation sites safe to visit? Yes! Blood donation is an essential medical service and, therefore, blood drives are not considered a mass gathering. As a healthcare organization, safety is KBC’s top priority. KBC is taking extra precautions in light of the coronavirus, including social distancing, disinfecting donor beds and surfaces after each use, making hand sanitizer available at all donation sites and offering prepackaged snacks for donor refreshment. Schedule an appointment to donate blood here: https://kybloodcenter.org/.

Mutual Aid

Many cities and states are setting up comprehensive Mutual Aid networks to support their communities. Mutual Aid networks support communities in taking care of each other through sharing resources and skills, checking in on one another, and supplying family-like structure and support to those that may not have support otherwise. Learn more at the following links:

Lexington Mutual Aid: https://bit.ly/2Uwu9cp

Louisville Mutual Aid: https://bit.ly/2WCDWAA

Kentucky Mutual Aid: https://bit.ly/2xfLBu3

Youth Mutual Aid Fund: https://bit.ly/2QGayFD

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As the global coronavirus pandemic continues to upend our everyday lives, it can be easy to give in to fear, frustration and acts of selfishness. Humans are wired for self-preservation (which is a good thing!), but we must be careful not to let greed and self-interest get in the way of one of humankind’s most profound strengths – community

Mayor Greg Fischer and the Louisville Metro Police Department have called upon the community-building expertise of staff and faculty members at Spalding University to assist in a key initiative to improve relations between the police and residents in Louisville.

Chandra Irvin, Spalding’s Executive Director of Peace and Spiritual Renewal; Janelle Rae, Director of Inclusive Engagement; and Dr. Steven Kniffley, Assistant Professor in the School of Professional Psychology and the Associate Director of the Center for Behavioral Health; are members of the project management team of the city’s Synergy Project, a year-long program designed to bring police and residents together to discuss ways to strengthen their relationship. The Synergy Project is part of the city’s Lean Into Louisville initiative.

The public is invited to Spalding’s campus on Tuesday, Dec. 17 to learn about the Synergy Project and join the discussion. Spalding will host a public action session – a guided conversation in which residents can communicate and share ideas directly with police officers – from 6-7:30 p.m. at the College Street Ballroom, 812 S. Second St. It’s one of several action sessions that will take place around town in the coming year.

“When people talk about an issue that’s going on, they’ll say, ‘What can I do?’ (Participating in Tuesday’s action session) is definitely something you can do,” Irvin said.


Synergy Project Public Action Session
When: 6-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 17
Where: College Street Ballroom, 812 S. Second Street

In the News | Courier Journal feature on the Synergy Project


Residents speak at a Synergy Project meeting on Spalding's campus
Mayor Greg Fischer, standing, and residents talked at a recent meeting for the Synergy Project that was held on Spalding’s campus. A public action session will take place 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, at Spalding’s College Street Ballroom.

The Synergy Project is intended to explore the tensions that exist between the significant societal values of public safety and individual rights and determine how to create and maintain a balance between the two, according to the city. Synergy will explore these tensions in order to mobilize actions for city-wide systemic change so every person in every part of the community can thrive.

The Synergy Project is modeled after The Illumination Project, an initiative undertaken in Charleston, South Carolina, after the 2015 hate crimes at Emanuel AME Church.

Irvin helped develop the Illumination Project, which also was a year-long program in which dozens of facilitated community conversations were held to discuss tensions between police and residents. At the end of the year, a strategic plan was unveiled, which continues to be revised and implemented today.

“There are lessons that we learned in Charleston that helped to inform how I am viewing and receiving feedback here,” Irvin said. “What I know is important is that we lean into the tension rather than leaning away from it. Really, that’s the only way that we’re going to connect in very genuine ways because clearly we don’t all have the same experiences and we don’t all think the same way.”

Irvin has helped the Synergy Project use a “polarity” framework that recognizes and values people’s different points of view.  It’s an approach that Irvin, Rae and others at Spalding have used to foster meaningful conversations on campus about a range of issues.

“We want to bring people together  despite differences – and actually invite differences – so that we can learn from one another and learn how to move to greater places with one another,” Irvin said.

The Synergy Project is bringing together individuals from all parts of the community – residents, academia, business, youth, faith-based organizations, law enforcement, and political leaders – in hopes of creating an opportunity for police and community to work together in a safe, open and respectful environment. The project hopes to identify root causes of distrust and find actionable solutions to move the city forward.

Irvin and Rae are helping to devise and carry out the programming and guided discussions of the Synergy Project. Kniffley, meanwhile, is researching and collecting data, along with Spalding Doctor of Clinical Psychology students Carson Haynes and Heather Dombrowsky.

Spalding's Chandra Irvin and Janelle Rae standing in front of a room of people seated around tables
Spalding staff members Irvin and Janelle Rae are part of the Synergy Project project management team. Psychology faculty Dr. Steven Kniffley is as well, working with grad students to collect and analyze data.

“This is a great example of a way to change the world,” Rae said of Spalding’s involvement. “Doing this work with the community and on behalf of community is in line with our Spalding mission. It’s our mission to embrace diverse people, and it’s our mission to create peace and promote social justice and to be of service in our communities. A big piece of this is learning from one another, learning about each other’s experiences so that we can actually be a connected community.

“I think it makes sense with our mission to train more and more people to engage productively with each other.”

Kniffley said that as a citizen of Louisville, he felt it was important to be a part of the Synergy Project.

“But then specifically as an African-American male,” he said, “just recognizing that there has always been tension between communities of color, specifically black communities, and law enforcement, to be a part of the effort that’s going to create a more meaningful relationship between the groups, I’m happy to be a part of that. Our goal is to use meaningful conversations that lead to actionable, tangible recommendations that the steering committee will then vote on and formulate into our final report.”

He added: “I think Spalding’s affiliation with the Synergy Project is consistent with our values of being a compassionate university, with being committed to issues of social justice and being at the forefront of change in the Louisville community.”

 

 

 

 

Spalding University’s enTECH center, Kosair Charities and the families of nine children enjoyed a happy holiday gathering on Wednesday during the second annual enTECH Day of Celebration. Gifts of assistive-technology devices and toys were distributed to the children, who range from 2 to 16 years old and who all face physical or cognitive challenges.

The gift distribution was made possible through the support of Kosair Charities. After enTECH therapist Alison Amschoff announced the recipients and explained how the children would benefit from the devices, Kosair Charities President Keith Inman and Board Chair Hugh I “H.” Stroth were on hand at enTECH to deliver the gifts.

The participating families applied for the devices through enTECH and its Kosair Charities Lending Library and Financial Assistance Program. The assistive-technology gifts, which included iPads and iPad accessories and various other switch toys, provide therapeutic, educational and sensory benefits and help with communication and play.

“I just want people to know that enTECH is a really significant part of this community for families who have kids with disabilities,” said Eric Wright, whose teenage daughters, Ella and Elsie, received an iPad and Apple Pencil on Wednesday. “Their advocacy and what they do for parents in the realm of therapy and the realm of assistive technology is truly amazing. I’ve been blessed to be able to have this for my family. We love the therapists we’ve worked with, particularly Alison, who we’ve known since Ella (who’s now 16) was 2 years old.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT enTECH, THE SERVICES IT OFFERS AND ITS STAFF

Wright said assistive-technology devices like the ones that were distributed on Wednesday can be expensive for families to purchase and may be difficult or impossible to acquire through insurance.

He said Ella’s old iPad, which she relies on to communicate because she is nonverbal, constantly freezes up but that it was unlikely the family would have replaced it anytime soon.

“To have Kosair Charities partner up with Spalding and enTECH to make this gift happen is really amazing,” he said. “This makes a big difference for us, particularly as we move into the new year.”

The Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (or enTECH) assistive technology resource center is a division of the Spalding University Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy. EnTECH is one of five state-designated assistive technology resource centers in Kentucky. Its mission is to create assistive technology solutions to meet the needs of the times through the enhancement of all people’s participation in everyday life activities. Its Lending Library provides families or individuals the opportunity to rent or be loaned pieces of assistive technology.

Spalding, Kosair Charities and enTECH officials posed families at enTECH
Officials from Spalding, Kosair Charities and enTECH gathered with the families who received gifts at the enTECH Day of Celebration, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Five years ago as a college freshman, Miranda Wray attended a student activities fair – the kind of event that occurs every day on university campuses across the country. She walked around checking out  tables and booths for information, including a table promoting bone marrow and blood stem cell donations.

Without thinking much of it and figuring nothing would ever come of it, Wray said agreed to register as a potential stem cell donor. After providing a quick cheek swab, Wray left and didn’t think about it again.  It wasn’t long until she completely forgot that she’d even signed up.

As it turns out, a half-decade later, that afterthought of an afternoon put Wray in position to save a person’s life.

This May, Wray, who is now a second-year graduate student in Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, was contacted seemingly out of the blue by the donation service, DKMS, and informed that the sample she’d given five years earlier was a perfect match for an anonymous young woman with leukemia who was in need of a transplant.

At first, Wray didn’t remember that she’d ever registered to be a donor, and it took her a while to process it all.

“I was like, ‘Wow, what is this?'” she said.

Wray followed up with a long phone call with DKMS, which carefully explained the process to her and left her time to make a decision on if she wanted to move forward.

“I knew I wanted to do it, but I’d never even given blood before or anything like that,” she said. “So I was nervous. But (DKMS coordinators) were amazing, and there was no way I wasn’t going to do it.”

Wray was eager to participate, but making a stem cell donation is no simple task. It was a four-month process, with an arduous final week.

Wray doesn’t like needles, but she had to have her blood drawn five times over the course of several months. She said she nearly passed out the first couple times. Then, in the week leading up to the donation, she received 10 injections in order to boost her stem-cell production. The injections made Wray feel like she had the flu, but they worked. She entered the donation day with stem cell levels triple their normal amount.

Finally, early last month after undergoing a full physical, Wray traveled to a medical facility to complete the donation, called peripheral blood stem cell collection. The method required Wray to lay still in a chair for six hours with a tube in each arm while her entire blood supply was cycled five times. The blood exited through one arm and was sent to a machine, where millions of stem cells were separated out and collected. Then, the blood reentered her body through the other arm.

On the day of the donation, Wray so nervous that she needed about an hour before the donation began to calm down and get her heart rate down. But she never had second thoughts, and the donation was successfully collected.

MEET MORE SPALDING WORLD-CHANGERS | spalding.edu/changetheworld

“To be a perfect match with a stranger is so rare, so I just thought it was really awesome,” she said. “I knew there was a living, breathing person somewhere out in the world who needed it. If I didn’t do this, she eventually could have passed away.”

DKMS operates on a system of strict donor-recipient confidentiality and anonymity. Wray doesn’t know the name of the woman who received her stem cells and has been given almost no information about her. But it’s possible that if the transplant ends up successful and both parties agree to it, that they could meet in a year.

Wray hopes to meet the woman someday and said she has thought a lot about what a potential meeting might be like.

“I would definitely cry a lot,” Wray said with a laugh. “Just knowing that that person maybe could build a new healthy body with my cells is the most rewarding feeling I think you could ever have.”

Wray said Spalding’s occupational therapy faculty has been fully supportive during her donation process and excused her absences she needed to miss class.

Coincidentally, DKMS’s first contact with Wray came about a week after Dr. Laura Stimler gave a lecture in her pediatrics class about blood cancers and the work of occupational therapists in oncology settings.

Wray said Stimler lectured about the exact same transplant process in which Wray ended up participating, and Wray said that her Spalding coursework had helped inform her as she moved ahead in the process.

“I was inspired to hear that Miranda was going to be a stem cell donor,” Stimler said. “Her choice to step up and help someone with complex needs is consistent with the generous spirit among our ASOT students. Miranda put her busy life on hold to give a stranger a second chance at life. This is one of the most authentic demonstrations of compassion that I have observed while teaching at Spalding.”

Stimler, who spent most of her clinical career working in pediatric oncology rehabilitation, said that in practice, the focus is primarily on the stem-cell transplant recipient, not the donor. However, Stimler said, “Miranda’s journey reminded us to consider the perspectives of all individuals involved in the transplant process.”

Stimler added that she was thrilled to hear that the class at Spalding had helped her recognize some of the complex terminology and diagnoses that came up during her donation experience.

“Miranda’s story is inspiring,” Stimler said. “We are proud to have her in ASOT.”

In another coincidence, Wray gave the donation during September, which is Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

Now she hopes that sharing her story will inspire others to register to become stem cell or bone marrow donors.

“It’s so crazy and so rare that you may get the chance to give someone a second chance at life,” she said. “I don’t know anyone else who’s ever had the chance to do this and ever matched with someone who needed a life-saving procedure like that. It was definitely one of the coolest days of my life.”

 

Spalding student Miranda Wray sitting chair with arm connected to a machine that is extracting stem cells she was donating
Miranda Wray spent several hours connected to a machine while her stem cells were collected for donation.

 

Spalding University’s new class of first-time first-year students spent part of last week’s Engage student orientation helping out a neighbor while also getting an introduction to Spalding’s mission.

The freshmen completed a community service project to benefit the clients of the Wellspring mental health organization, which offers housing and psychiatric rehabilitation services for those struggling with mental illness.

The students gathered in the lower level of the Morrison Hall dorm, which is just across South Third Street from Wellspring’s Bernie Block Wellness center, and the freshmen assembled hundreds of hygiene kits and bagged meals that Wellspring distributed to individuals who are facing homelessness and mental illness.

“The work these students are doing is going to positively affect the lives of hundreds,” said Kim Johnson, Director of Development and Communications at Wellspring. “We so appreciate them taking the time to serve those in our community who need our help most.”

TODAY IS A GREAT DAY TO CHANGE THE WORLD | Meet more students making a difference

Spalding Director of Student Leadership and Service Learning Anna Foshee, who organized the service project, said the choice to work with Wellspring was a deliberate one because the organization is located adjacent to campus and because students may encounter those in need of services.

And Anita Hall, User Experience Librarian at Spalding, said that “being a good neighbor” is a core belief held by the university’s faculty and staff.

“We want to eliminate the stigma around those struggling with homelessness and mental illness,” Foshee said. “Instead of being fearful of them, we want students to feel compelled to do their part to help them in their time of need.”

Spalding freshmen conduct a service project every year as part of Engage. While the group of about 100 students packed the lunches and hygienes kits for Wellspring, another 30-40 did landscaping work around Morrison Hall, planting raised flower beds. Last year, Spalding’s freshmen stuffed back-to-school backpacks with school supplies that were distributed to young students through Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

“(At Spalding), you get to have the opportunity to actually make a change,” freshman accounting major Will Costello said. “It feels really good to get to do that. I think that young people are the key to making a change in the world.  It’s a great atmosphere here. Being a leader is about getting involved and being active in the community.”

LEARN MORE | The Record’s story and photos about the service project 

 

 

Spalding University will join a city-wide effort next month to train a world-record number of citizens in a suicide-prevention technique known as “QPR,” or “Question, Persuade, Refer.”

Spalding will be among the many sites around Louisville hosting free, public 90-minute training sessions during National Suicide Prevention Week, which is Sept. 9-15. The QPR course, designed for anyone 18 years or older, teaches the warning signs of suicide, how to offer help and how to refer people to get help.

Spalding’s sessions will take place in the Kosair Charities Health and Natural Sciences Building at the following times:

*Monday, Sept. 10, 12:30 – 2 p.m.
*Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2-3:30 p.m.
*Wednesday, Sept. 12, 12:30-2 p.m.
*Thursday, Sept. 13, 2:30-4 p.m.

To attend a Spalding session, participants MUST  register online.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 100 total people had registered for the Spalding sessions, with space limited, so those interested should register quickly to secure a spot.

Mayor Greg Fischer and city leaders are encouraging members of the public to share the word and get as many relatives, friends, coworkers, etc. as possible to participate in the training and try to establish a Guinness world record for the number of people trained in a single week. Registration information for the dozens of other free training sessions around Louisville can be found at qprlou.com.

No specialized mental health care training or expertise is required for those taking the training. Certified trainers will discuss myths about suicide, identify warning signs, outline how to talk to someone who may be thinking about suicide and how to persuade them to seek help.

QPR is similar to CPR in that it is designed to support an emergency response to someone in crisis, and to save lives.

Leaders from Spalding’s School of Professional Psychology, office of Counseling and Psychology Services (CaPS) and office of Residence Life are helping organize and conduct the training on this campus.

“Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility,” said Dr. Allison From-Tapp, director of Counseling and Psychological Services. “Anyone can learn to help prevent suicide with some questioning and compassion. QPR was designed to teach individuals to ask the question of suicide, persuade someone to get help, and make appropriate referrals. Through this 90-minute training you will learn the tools you need to help save a life and plant the seeds of hope.”

According to 2017 Home Equity Report, there were 584 suicide deaths in Jefferson County from 2011-15, compared with 333 homicides for the same period. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates are on the increase, and more than half of people who die by suicide do not have a known mental health condition.

“Suicide rates have been rising steadily over the past decade,” said Dr. Steve Katsikas, chair of the Spalding School of Professional Psychology. “Suicide cuts across geographic and demographic boundaries. It is an issue that can impact almost anyone. Learning how to intervene can make a difference and save a life. We are committed to providing training to our community to help make the widest impact possible.”

The city’s QPR undertaking has roots from 2016, when the Louisville Health Advisory Board’s Behavioral Health subcommittee held the Bold Moves Against Suicide Summit on Spalding’s campus.

 

School of Nursing faculty member Dr. Nancy Kern is helping battle the recent hepatitis A outbreak in a way that aligns with Spalding University’s mission of spreading compassion and serving underserved and vulnerable populations.

Kern, an associate professor in Spalding’s Master of Science in Nursing program, and her husband, Paul, who works for Louisville Metro Government’s Department for Public Health and Wellness, have spent a night or two per week for the past several months traveling around the city administering hepatitis A vaccines to homeless citizens.

Since November, Kern said, she’d given shots to about 450 people they’ve encountered in parking lots, under overpasses or in back alleys.

“I’m very aware that this is what the university’s mission is, and when I’m with my students, it’s just kind of reminding them, ‘This is what we’re called to do,’” Kern said.

Kern said she and her husband do their hepatitis A vaccine work, literally, out of the back of their car, attempting to approach homeless folks in an unassuming way so they’ll be more likely to participate.

The homeless can be among the most vulnerable to the hepatitis A virus due to a lack of sanitation in their living conditions. They also are at risk for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and a co-infection with hepatitis A can have serious consequences.

But because drug use can be prevalent in homeless populations, those people tend to be leery of coming to a health department office or traditional brick-and-mortars medical facility to get a vaccine and or explain why they might be at risk. That led to the Kerns trying the mobile approach.

They offer food, some information about hepatitis and the opportunity to get a shot.

“If they’re not interested, it’s just, ‘OK, well, here’s some information,’” Nancy Kern said. “’If you know anybody who starts having these symptoms, tell them they need to get seen. Here’s some soap. Remember that hand sanitizer doesn’t work. You have to use soap and water to protect yourself.’ So we’re trying to do a lot of patient education but in a non-threatening, non-authoritarian way.”

Kern said she and her husband are happy to get two or three people vaccinated in a night, and over time, they hope that’ll build trust and get more people to participate when the Kerns show up again.

Kern is no stranger to working with the homeless, and she said she has “just always gravitated toward working with the underdog.” She has been a Red Cross volunteer since 1970 and has lived overseas and been exposed to folks living in extreme poverty.

“Many people just aren’t comfortable talking to somebody who’s homeless,” Kern said. “I’m not afraid of these folks. … I don’t care if they look disheveled. I don’t care if they haven’t had a bath in a while. I don’t care if they have a mental illness because my background is also in mental health.”

Kern has taken Spalding graduate and undergraduate nursing students with her on the hepatitis A street outreach trips and other service initiatives.

For example, Kern, assisted by four Spalding students, immunized 160 festival goers at the recent Pride Festival on the waterfront.

And last fall, Kern and Spalding undergraduate nursing professor Dr. Rebecca Gesler took a group of nursing students to Grundy, Va., to participate in the Remote Area Medical free clinic for underserved and uninsured individuals. The Spalding volunteers worked closely with dentists providing free dental care.

Kern said service learning is valuable to nursing students.

“With my students, they’re learning more about infection, about infectious disease, infection prevention with vaccination,” she said. “They learn patient education approaches.”

And as for working with homeless and other underserved populations, Kern said, “some students have never been confronted with something other than the life that they know. That’s what service learning is about.”

Kern has taught at Spalding for 10 years. A nurse practitioner who received her MSN and doctorate of education in leadership (EdD) from the university, Kern teaches graduate courses in health assessment, adult primary care and the theoretical foundations of nursing as well as a scholarly synthesis course in which she guides MSN students through evidence-based projects.

She is also in practice at Norton Occupational Medicine.

Asked in a recent interview during National Nurses Week why she thinks nurses should be appreciated, Kern said nurses have “the unique experience of being with you at the very best of times, like when your baby is born, to the very worst of times.”

“We enter a very sacred space with our patients,” she said.

More information | Read more about the historic Spalding School of Nursing

A group of doctoral students and faculty from the Spalding University School of Professional Psychology spent last weekend learning and helping at the same time.

Ten students from Spalding’s Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program (PsyD), along with faculty members Drs. Norah Chapman and Amy Young, volunteered to provide information and mental health services while also conducting research at the Remote Area Medical free clinic in Hazard, Ky.

The RAM mobile clinics provide free medical, dental and vision care to underserved or uninsured individuals. The Spalding PsyD volunteers helped add mental health services to the fold in Hazard.

Chapman said the PsyD volunteers worked in three roles at the RAM clinic: staffing an informational table to explain about good mental health practices, performing direct interventions and brief counseling with clients, and providing integrated care with the dentists. They  helped calm patients – including many who’d not seen a dentist in years or ever – as they received extractions, fillings and other procedures.

The Spalding volunteers interacted with more 200 clients and patients over the weekend, Chapman said, and for some of the newer PsyD students, it was their first experience working directly with clients.

“This is really the pinnacle of our training programs – research intervention, integrated health care and serving underserved populations,” Chapman said. “It was an incredible experience.”

Chapman said the Spalding volunteers tried to explain to clients and patients the importance of mental health services and to put them at ease about talking to a professional about their concerns and needs. She said some had faced physical trauma; felt anxiety or stress over family or financial issues; or were battling addiction.

Chapman said some of the visitors thanked Spalding’s volunteers for being there and told them they wouldn’t otherwise have had access to mental health services where they live. Chapman said several of visitors there had never previously talked to a mental health professional.

Spalding PsyD student Autumn Truss said it was “truly inspiring” to see the range of health providers from the across the country come together at the RAM clinic to serve the “resilient population of Eastern Kentucky.”

“Partnering with RAM to provide free mental health services was the perfect opportunity to help this underserved population and carry out Spalding’s mission as a compassionate university,” Truss said.

Group of 11 people, wearing matching blue T-shirts that say "Spalding University Volunteers" at the Remote Area Medical clinic in Hazard, Ky.
Spalding clinical psychology student and faculty volunteers at the Remote Area Medical clinic in Hazard, Ky., June 23-24, 2018.
Three female Spalding students wearing blue shirts, sit on gym floor reading to a young boy as a man holding a smaller boy looks on
Photo from RAM Facebook page

After a mural outside the entrance to Blue Lick Elementary School was recently vandalized, Spalding University art professor Skylar Smith and some student volunteers were there to lend a skilled helping hand.

Smith and students Kirsten Kircher,  Amelia Huneke and Sarah Reynolds, all of the Spalding studio art program, as well as students Carla Johnson (liberal studies major) and Aprile Parry (business administration major) volunteered on Sunday, April 22, to repair and repaint the mural, which was tagged up on Jan. 12 with expletives and graphic images in black spray paint.

School staff and parents pressure washed and painted over the offensive words and images immediately after they were discovered on the storage building next to the student drop-off area, but for the past three months, the mural, which depicts the friendly Blue Lick lion mascot next to the words “Blue Lick Pride,” was mostly ruined.

Kirchner, who specializes in painting, took on the task of redoing the smiling lion, and the others, working with Blue Lick Elementary students, parents and faculty, did touch-up and repair painting. The volunteers also painted the adjacent wall with the Blue Lick Elementary motto – “Be safe, be kind, be respectful, be responsible. Be your best and help the rest” – in bold blue-and-yellow letters.

“I only live 20 or 30 minutes out from here, so I feel like this is my community, too,” Kirchner said. “I want these kids to see something better (than the damaged mural) and have something to smile about.  … Knowing that they can come together and make something so beautiful and spark something within other students, that’s what artists love to do. We like to spark people and give them inspiration and make them feel like they can make a difference. Hopefully this kind of makes them believe in that.”

Johnson isn’t an artist, but she said she’s been a lifelong volunteer who always is looking for ways to help the community. She came to Blue Lick after seeing a Spalding campus email looking for volunteers.

It was the same for Parry, who brought along her two sons, ages 11 and 5. The younger boy went to Head Start at Blue Lick.

“I had a blast,” Johnson said. “The reason that we had to do this is bad, but overall everyone came together and corrected a wrong. … Everyone lends a hand. When someone’s struggling, you help them.”

Spalding got involved after Blue Lick Elementary Parent-Teacher Association President Erin Lush contacted Smith, who then began to organize student volunteers.

“I don’t think we could have had a better university come out to help our school community,” Lush said. “Spalding is one of the universities that prides itself on community outreach, and when they responded and, ‘Yes, we would love to help,’ it was a perfect fit. Skylar and all the Spalding students were engaged, polite, very talented. They stayed to get the job done, and it’s great. I can’t be more happy.”

Smith said she was proud that students volunteered their time to help repair a piece of public art, especially one that is such a point of pride to Blue Lick Elementary.

“I think it shows that our students want to be involved and that we have some students who are civic-minded and want to help out,” she said.

Extra thanks: Home Depot on Preston Highway and Sherwin-Williams Paint Store on Hurstbourne Lane donated paint supplies for the project, Lush said.

In the news: Here is the WHAS-11 story on the mural repair.