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Connections through School Supplies

Jahmeyka Project partnered with Willowcrest (a Hospital Skilled Nursing Unit) to organize a 45kg sized donation of school supplies.

Shared Governance nurses and Willowcrest leadership stand with Jahmeyka Project social worker, Judy Smith, after receiving school supplies the nurses collected in March 2019.

As an inaugural blog post I felt a desire to talk about this story within the context of connection. Social work, the profession, is based on the concept of a person within their environment and strongly focuses on connecting individuals, families, groups, and communities with the environment and empowering success through a strength's focus. This wild journey of my own social work career has taken me into hospitals, homes, schools, homeless shelters, community centers, and even abroad. I still have a lot to learn, but one of the most valuable lessons I have learned is the importance of human connection and a shared vision for working together to make a better world for ourselves and our children. Working together includes the importance of collaborating with other professionals. The story about the Willowcrest nurses helping the Jahmeyka project is incredibly symbolic for me because it shows how people saw the work that the agencies in Jamaica were doing and wanted to collaborate too. This is not so much a story about nurses and social workers working together (although also important to note) but of people working together for a shared vision of empowering our fellow person.

Since our inception, Jahmeyka Project has collected school supplies via in kind donations from trip volunteers/students and their families. Possessing the needed and appropriate school supplies has been identified as a contributing factor for increased school attendance and success. If a student has the tools needed to learn they can learn. Sounds pretty simple, right?

In years past and when Leslie Yaffa travelled to Jamaica with students, each volunteer/student would do their part to collect school supplies to share with agencies during service learning and volunteer visits. When the Jahmeyka Project started trips outside of the University context we continued this tradition of bringing school supplies with us. These supplies have traveled with the team to Kingston, Jamaica where they are shared with local agencies and schools as part of an ongoing effort to support the missions of these organizations through school supplies.

In 2019 the Jahmeyka Project proudly made our largest donation yet. Over 135 kg of school supplies were donated to agencies in the Kingston area during the 2019 Jahmeyka Project trip. The size of the donation was in large part thanks to the generous work and efforts made by the Willowcrest nursing staff, shared governance team. This group of nurses, some of whom have close ties to Jamaica, gathered 45kg of school supplies as part of their service project for the Shared Governance committee. These ladies campaigned for nearly 6 months, beginning in 2018, to gather supplies donated by staff and employees of the Willowcrest skilled nursing unit at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA. With their selfless contribution we were able to really supply our partners with our most generous donation yet.

Sometimes things are not measurable in numbers. Sometimes life is measured best by the capacity and drive of the people around us. What I experienced from the giving nature of the Willowcrest nurses and the impact I saw with my own eyes when sharing the supplies reminds me of this fact. I'd love to hear stories that WOW you about connecting with those abroad and seeing the capacity and joy of being human.

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