Community Comes First at AdventHealth in Kansas

An initiative in two schools shows that serving is at the heart of AdventHealth’s mission.

AdventHealth News, for Mid-America Union Conference Outlook, and Adventist Review
Community Comes First at AdventHealth in Kansas
[Photo: AdventHealth Kansas]

For years, AdventHealth in Kansas, United States, has worked to build relationships at two area schools, Shawanoe Elementary and Trailridge Middle, which are both located less than two miles from AdventHealth Shawnee Mission. As part of the Shawnee Mission School District, Shawanoe Elementary serves a large number of students with families living in poverty. Team members work with school social workers to identify and respond to needs of families and children at both schools.

The biggest needs include warm winter clothing, food, personal hygiene items, and home cleaning and laundry supplies. Family meal kits, with recipes and extra food, are sent home over winter break with kids who rely heavily on school-provided breakfasts and lunches.

“Teachers are telling us about how kids are so excited to find creative ways to enjoy the fruits and vegetables we send home,” Jeanette Metzler, community benefit manager at AdventHealth in Kansas, said.

AdventHealth also supports the schools by purchasing refrigeration equipment needed for a vaccination clinic that benefits vulnerable children in the community. It provides volunteers and financial support for back-to-school events that facilitate access to physicals and immunization for local children.

The organization also sponsors an after-school running club for more than 70 elementary students and a healthy cooking club for 18 middle-school students and provides teachers and staff with frequent appreciation gifts and classroom supplies. Finally, AdventHealth reported, it offers experiential learning at the school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) family engagement night. There, students learn about careers in health care and create beautifully designed posters to share with AdventHealth team members.

“We continue to support Shawanoe and Trailridge in all the ways we have in the past and are also adding some programs for the coming school year to help families get their physicals, immunizations, and dental screenings,” Metzler said. “For Shawanoe Elementary, we are providing more than 200 backpacks as part of their ‘Back 2 School Welcome Wagon’ event.”

Although the school programs make up a big part of AdventHealth’s community focus, Metzler and her team also support the New Change 4 Youth program in Kansas City, Kansas. New Change 4 Youth is an Adventist program supporting refugee youth and families from five African and Asian countries through financial support, team member donations, volunteers, and medical services. For the past two years, AdventHealth has sponsored the LOVE Works event. Refugee teen girls and their moms along with other women in the community enjoy an evening of pampering, health education, and a meal. They leave with a tote full of bath, body, and feminine products. AdventHealth also schedules these young women and their mothers for free women’s health screenings. During the holidays, AdventHealth team members purchase, assemble, and wrap a truckload of holiday boxes filled with surprises for more than 400 children and assist with delivery.

In addition, AdventHealth supports the Ottawa, Kansas, community by investing in mental health, nutrition, and preventive care in Franklin County communities through efforts such as mentoring youth in after-school programs, providing healthy food at community gatherings, and taking preventive care information and services to multiple outreach events each year.

“I am amazed at the support from other organizations and community partners when we ask for help,” Metzler said. “They have wholeheartedly joined us as we work toward improving the health of our communities.”

The original version of this story was posted by the Mid-America Union Conference Outlook.

AdventHealth News, for Mid-America Union Conference Outlook, and Adventist Review