Central Valley Story-
Not far from the affluent neighborhoods of San Francisco, people living in the Central Valley have one of the highest poverty rates in America. In the spring of 2012, the USF leadership team had a six-day immersion experience in the Central Valley to increase the awareness of challenges facing people in our own backyard. Expanding on this experience, Dr. Tim Godfrey, S.J. and Dr. Jo Loomis, SONHP faculty planned a conducted a two week immersion experience for students in different programs at SONHP in the Central Valley from July 21 – August 3. During the week students worked with Save the Children and went to elementary schools in Farmersville and Orange Cove. Students conducted over 450 assessments for elementary age children and their parents. In addition, one weekend the students and faculty held a foot care clinic for the homeless in Fresno and provided assessments and foot care, as well as health promotion teaching to 150 homeless persons. Dr. Loomis states, “The fact that we had so many people come out really indicates a need and a gap in care.” This experience was life-changing for many of the students who blogged about their experience. One of many comments made that reflected the gratitude of the people in the communities served was, “Today, a family came with a gift for us, a hand knitted animal blanket. The gift was presented to us as a token of thanks to all of the “USF nurses”. We came here to serve, care and help; yet we might head back to the Bay with the greatest reward!”, When referring to the Central Valley Immersion experience, both Dr. Godfrey, SJ and Dr. Loomis emphasized the importance of SONHP providing opportunities for students to work collaboratively with each other and with other health professionals in delivering community-based health care. Dr. Godfrey, SJ stated, “Our experience last summer was one more opportunity for our students to experience this type of collegiality, and we will hopefully improve on it as we prepare for next summer."