Mizzou Public Health Club partnering with Columbia charities to make a change

Through their volunteer work with local organizations, the MPHC is looking to make a difference.

Despite only being eight weeks into the school year, the Mizzou Public Health Club is already on track and making an impact in the community.

After taking the reins this year, club president Sydney Jones is hoping to prioritize the service aspect of the club. This year, it is planning on working with a different volunteer organization around Columbia each month.

“We want to show that public health is very intersectional,” Jones said. “It’s not just looking at nutrition and doing random stuff like that but it can also be things like working with immigrants and refugees who have very specific barriers in their health.”

In September, the club worked with local organization City of Refuge, which is, according to its website, a “501(c)(3) non-profit organization created to help refugees and immigrants in mid-Missouri.”

After working with City of Refuge for a service-learning opportunity through the university, Jones found that the organization was in need of some help.

“It’s an organization that has a lot of love going into it but they don’t make a lot of money,” Jones said. “Most people there are part-time and so they rely really heavily on volunteers.”

Teaming up with another local organization, Just Between Friends, the MPHC volunteered at the Just Between Friends Columbia Fall Sale 2019, an event hosted in the Hearnes Center Sept. 26-28. The event focused on selling supplies that are needed for families raising children, such as maternity wear, toys and clothes for newborns to juniors.

“The sale is primarily geared towards mid-Missouri families looking for items for their families at a lower price,” coordinator for JBF, Nichole Clark said. “The donations that go unsold, we are donating to City of Refuge.”

In October, the club will be working with Woodhaven, an organization dedicated to helping adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities succeed.

Partnering alongside Woodhaven and the Mizzou Disability Coalition, the MPHC is volunteering to help at the Woodhaven Family Luncheon on Oct. 19 to serve lunch to the residents of Woodhaven.

“A lot of people with disabilities are older and don’t have family that comes out and sees them all the time so we’re gonna provide a meal for them … and then we’ll just sit with them and talk and be with them like a family,” Jones said.

As a service-oriented organization, the MPHC also seeks to advocate the importance of health literacy. It views education, awareness and disease prevention as key components for creating a change in the world.

“I can look at everything around me and tie it into public health,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of things that young people are very disturbed about in our society and our politics and most of them you can tie back to public health.”

In addition to working with local charities, the club offers other opportunities for students to get involved. These include a semester-long book club with Dr. Michelle Teti of the Missouri School of Health Professions looking at a book through a public health narrative. This semester they are reading “Nomadland” by Jessica Bruder.

The MPHC meets on the first Wednesday of every month in Clark Hall Room 616 to discuss their plans for the month and hold discussions on current public health issues.

With a long year ahead, Jones is hopeful for the future of the organization and believes in its mission.

“We can’t just expect the health industry to change on its own,” she said.

Edited by Ben Scott | bscott@themaneater.com

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