Haleigh Gokey, an AmeriCorps VISTA member, just began her year of national service as the Linn County Medical Reserve Corps Unit Coordinator and Public Health Accreditation Organizer. She is one of 24 VISTAs -- or Volunteers in Service to America -- that the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division places around Oregon. Here she shares some of her background and plans for her time in Linn County and beyond.
What did you do before this?
I earned my MPH from Oregon State University in Health Promotion & Health Behavior. Before that, I earned my BA in Exercise Science and Psychology from Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
What has pleasantly surprised you in your new position?
The opportunities to network with so many people throughout the county and state who are working to improve the health of Oregonians.
What do you see as the point of an AmeriCorps VISTA year of service, for you and for others?
Our AmeriCorps VISTA year of service allows us to use our education and experiences to build capacity in the communities we serve to help alleviate the negative effects of poverty. As the MRC unit coordinator, I work to build infrastructure for community emergencies. This work is really important in Linn County because we have such a large county, geographically, and therefore serve a rural population that can be difficult to access during an emergency. With our MRC volunteers we can work to reduce the stress on the emergency responders and help provide more care for those in need. The accreditation work is helping build the Linn County Public Health Department infrastructure to better serve its customers’ needs. We will be able to better appropriate our money and services and also apply for grants that will best serve our customers.
What is an accomplishment so far that you’d like to share?
We have been able to recruit more volunteers with diverse backgrounds and skill sets which is a huge benefit for our MRC and community.
What would a successful year on your position look like? What do you hope to achieve?
After my VISTA year is complete there will not be another VISTA, so my goal is to guide current MRC volunteers into more leadership roles to take on the program after I am done. I am also hoping to complete a lot of documentation gathering for the accreditation process.
Any thoughts or inspiration about what you want to do next after your VISTA year?
The possibilities are endless. I am interested in doing work in public health programming planning and evaluation, doing mission work abroad or joining the Peace Corps, or maybe going back to school to earn my teaching certificate and teaching middle school and/or high school students.
On a personal note, what was your best vacation ever?
Study abroad at the University of Aberdeen, in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Last, what do you do for fun?
Hiking, running and crochet.
Linn County MRC members can reach Haleigh Gokey at: email@example.com
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