A program which consists of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County, partnered with Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Palms Inn in Santa Rosa, Ca. to support a health and human services program. Nearly 100 juniors from high schools throughout Sonoma County and over 30 volunteers from health care and human services organizations participated in Health & Human Services Day.
Meeting once per month, students in the Tomorrow’s Leaders Today program get an inside look at Sonoma County through hands-on learning that deepens community connections and explores career opportunities.
Spearheaded by Tomorrow’s Leaders Today director Catrina Dierke, Health & Human Services Day provides an opportunity for students to talked with a plethora of healthcare professions, explore issues and challenges in health care, and learn how to manage their own health. “Students gained meaningful information about challenges facing low-income populations, services available and the impact on vulnerable residents in the community,” said Dierke.
This year, students had a unique look into community services and programs that are in place to help those in need. Students began their day at the Transit Mall Station in downtown Santa Rosa and rode public transportation to get to-and-from their destinations; learning first-hand how to deal with the elements and schedule when the bus is late. It was a humbling experience.
Tomorrow’s Leaders Today student Grace Johnson said, “I am planning to go into the medical field, so seeing the different aspects of the industry made me more excited for my future.”
“It was really cool to be able to see how doctors can impact people’s lives,” said Lauren Meekins.
Gaining hands-on experience and learning from professionals in the field is an important goal of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Today program. Students received a back-end tour of the hospital by a group of retired physicians, which included Dr. John Reed, Dr. Des Shapiro, Dr. Barry Smith, Dr. Rich Wilber and Dr. Robert Schaefer, and visited Pathology, Women’s & Children’s Services, Nutrition Services and the Emergency Department.
“I learned about the importance of teamwork with the hospital and how much of a variety of job opportunities there are,” said Cecila Contreras.
“I learned that a hospital provides a place where everybody has a chance to change lives every day,” said James Roh. “Working at a hospital is a service and it is motivating to serve people every day because you are constantly affecting lives.”
Working with Catholic Charities and other innovative partnerships, the Palms Inn observed a 56 percent reduction in ambulance transportation, 45 percent reduction in admittance to the emergency room and in-patient hospitalization, 77 percent reduction in law enforcement interaction, and 98 percent reduction in usage of crisis intervention and suicide hotlines in its first six months of operations.
Students had an opportunity to tour the facility and learn about resources and opportunities available to Palms Inn residents.
“At the Palms Inn I learned that if enough people are committed to helping a community, they can make a difference,” said Tomorrow’s Leaders Today student Jordan Pride. “It was incredible to see the help they provided for people in all aspects of life, such as employment, citizenship and the arts.”
About Tomorrow’s Leaders Today
A program of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County, Tomorrow’s Leaders Today is a community education and leadership skills training program for students entering their junior year in high school throughout Sonoma County, California. Emphasizing hands-on learning, critical thinking, and communication, nearly 100 Tomorrow’s Leaders Today students get an inside look at their community and its issues, meet decision-makers, solve problems and discover how Sonoma County works. Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County is proud to serve 10,000 young people each year. For more information about Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, visit tomorrowsleaderstoday.org.