Fieldwork During a Pandemic is Human Services Work

Updated: Aug 3

August 01, 2020 Community Engagement Team

Yesterday, Dr. Geoff Johnson and I (Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson) had the opportunity to be a part of an amazing community outreach project in Southeast Washington, DC. As a volunteer, I worked the assembly line with some amazing colleagues; preparing to distribute COVID19 prevention kits (masks, sanitizer, and information cards on safety and testing). This provided the team with an opportunity to show partnership and unity while engaging with our community partners at the Reentry Action Network (RAN).


Now, the beautiful thing about this consortium is that we each are leaders from different nonprofits located in Washington, DC, where we come together under the umbrella of RAN for a common causes. Yesterday typified this type of collaboration. Present among us was Ms. Paula Thompson from Voices for a Second Chances (VSC), who also serves as RAN’s co-chair. Additionally, Courtney Stewart, the chair of the Community Engagement Committee and the CEO/Founder of the National Reentry Action Network For Returning Citizens, headed up the whole community-based initiative. VFC had volunteers on sight as well. We are pleased with the outcome. The Community Engagement Team had volunteers/team members posted at two additional areas in the city (Wards 1 and 7).


I would be remiss if I failed to mention our teammates and colleagues, Ms. Mercedes Mendez  and Ms. Faith Hudson from the Council of Court Excellence and Jennifer Gajdosik, Building Futures Program, Community Services Organization. What an amazing team!


Preparing for This Journey:

A pandemic is nothing to take for granted. We knew that Wards 1, 7, and 8 were high risk areas where underserved populations are far greater susceptible for Health related challenges. We know that these populations are also vulnerable and more likely to suffer the most from COVID19. To that end, we needed experts to guide our work prior to the kick off of this project so that we better understood the disease and how to discuss prevention with our community members. We are pleased to acknowledge Ms. Sara Thimmes , Sigma Phi Nu Technical Director and Ms. Lisa Trogdon, MSN, RN, CHC, PHi Nu Operations Director who held a special presentation with RAN to apprise us of the latest CDC recommendations on how to prevent and/or reduce the spread of COVID19 [through social distancing, washing our hands and wearing masks0.



Some may ask what it means to be a human services worker in the field, striving to effect social change? The answer is that you may find yourself wearing many hats. As an executive/leader of DC Project Connect, I often find myself in roles where I role up my sleeves and get the work done right alongside of our volunteers. partner organizations, and our board members. This is both important and meaningful work. It is days like these that keep me grounded. Yesterday was a good day.


If you are ever in the Washington, DC area and you would like to find a role in making social change; give us a shout out. Be well. --Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson

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