VISTA Year Two



In July 2018 Church Health received a new team of VISTAS to take over where the old VISTAS left off. There have been a lot of changes to the VISTA program since 2017 in hopes to keep improving as the years move forward. This new year looks to hold a lot of exciting adventures for the VISTAS and many opportunities to learn and grow.

MLK 50

The VISTAs had a chance to volunteer at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis!

January 15th is Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and all around the nation we celebrate it! In Memphis, since August of 2017, there have been a number of events building up to April 4, the anniversary of Dr. King’s death, which took place here, in Memphis.

On April 4th, not only will VISTAs have the opportunity to volunteer again, but our site will be involved as well! Church Health in collaboration with other organizations are participating in the grand celebration of the life of Dr. King!

Here is what some VISTAs had to say about their experience, January 15th

I am beyond thrilled to say I was present at the Civil Rights Museum on a special day like 1/15/18. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life standing up for what he believes.


To be there, at the event, with Church Health, continued to impact me as visitors came to the table and shared their relative stories to Dr. King’s Legacy with us.

Like this event, I am so grateful people came together to celebrate the community. To come together, offer their gifts of dance, nutrition, visual art, medicine, movement, poetry and countless others was inspirational and made the world shine brighter. I was proud to be there to celebrate what has been accomplished thus far in a city that was impacted by King personally. -Kendal Schaetzle


The event was such an inspirational experience to see people and children from all different backgrounds coming together to dance and learn how to become healthy. I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with various community partners. We got contact info from partners to collaborate in the near future for events.  –Kourtney Dortch

At the MLK Event a youth step team performed, quite well too. At the end, an older lady got up and announced how positive it was in a world with so much negativity. To me, seeing this older lady so encouraged really encouraged me. – Charles Teague


It was an honor to serve at the National Civil Rights Museum on Martin Luther King Jr. Day! My favorite part was seeing all of the community partners who are working for a better Memphis every day. I also had the pleasure of seeing a few performances! – Rebecca Suzuki

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This event was on MLK day in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. We held a table in the Health and Wellness tent, where we were able to talk to a wide range of people and distribute information and food samples prepared by Jennifer in the kitchen. -Samual Jordan

Cranberry Chicken Salad

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Chill Time: 60 min
  • Makes: 8 Servings
  • Serving size: 1/8 mixture

What you’ll need

  • 1 pound chicken cooked rotisserie chicken, skin removed
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup reduced-fat poppy seed dressing
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

What to do

  1. Combine all ingredients. Chill until ready to serve

Serving suggestion: Serve with whole grain bread or crackers

Nutrition facts (per serving)

  • Calories: 231
  • Total fat: 6 grams
  • Sodium: 496 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 30 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 17 grams
  • Cost:$$

Smoking Cessation conti..

Phase 3

After failure of phone calls to recruit, we are attempting to increase attendance through advertising more broadly with flyers and online. Creating tear-off flyers to post in work break areas, as well as coffee shops.

We hand out new Commit to Quit brochure/quit guide at outreach events. The new brochure is a glimpse of what the class offers. This booklet offers facts, activities, as well as goal setting to help a smoker begin the journey to become a non smoker.

Results: flyers posted at ~20 community organizations (coffee shops, grocery store break rooms, community centers, etc.). No increase in class attendance (zero participants on 10-10-17) 10-10-17

Phase 4

Recruitment Goal: Improve attendance through changing outreach strategies within Church Health


Talk with behavioral health consultants and physicians about referral strategies.

Begin screening patients for tobacco use.

Increase referrals through Congregational health promoters.

Continue Wide Net Advertising.

Participate in the Great American Smokeout (ACA event, Nov. 16th)

Training with behavioral health consultants, phone nurses, and others who are interested on 11-14-17 at 5 (at time of normal class) with focus on “The 5 A’s” brief intervention strategy


Phase 5

Goal: to reduce smoking even if we can’t improve class attendance


Begin phone counseling from volunteer nurses

Emphasize handout of quit guide by physicians, behavioral health consultants, health coaches, outreach personnel, CHPs, etc.

Results: This will begin in January 2018


Meet Becky Suzuki

Hi! My name is Becky and I am serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Behavioral Health and Development departments here at Church Health. I am originally from Denver, Colorado and then moved to Philadelphia to study at Haverford College, where I majored in psychology and minored in German studies. After graduation, I moved to Essen, Germany, where I taught English to German students as a Fulbright scholar. I am passionate about understanding and combating health inequalities, and serving with AmeriCorps at Church Health seemed like the perfect way to give back to my country while continuing to engage with these questions. I plan to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology and provide mental healthcare to low income communities. So far, I have really enjoyed getting to know Memphis – my favorite things to do here include finding new places to eat and going to the zoo. When I’m not at Church Health, you can find me reading books, listening to podcasts, or watching The Office!

Meet Kourtney Dortch

Hello! I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. I attended Xavier University of Louisiana, in New Orleans, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Biology, a minor in Chemistry, and honors in Theology, Philosophy, and English. My goals for the future are to become a doctor and merge my love of medicine with computer science. By spring 2018 or Summer 2018, I hope to have taken the MCAT and also taken courses at Tech901, a nonprofit aimed at “training current or potential Memphians for a variety of information technology jobs and to work with employees to increase the Memphis technology job base”. I am interested in becoming a software developer or an application coder. Eventually, I would like to combine my love of medicine and computer science to create machines and software in the field of biotechnology or nanotechnology. As for medical school, I have not decided which medical school I want to attend, but I hope that any medical school that I attend will be close to the Memphis area. With my interest in medicine and technology, I want to be an ally in the black community so that African Americans will not be reluctant to go to the doctor when sick or ill. I also desire to provide ample services and up-to-date medical software and machines to the underserved populations of Memphis.IMG_2352

While I am studying to reach these goals during my gap year, I have chosen to do yearlong service with Church Health through AmeriCorps VISTA because I needed this opportunity to help me to recognize that I was given this chance to realize my capabilities, to expand my knowledge and life views, and to help in serving a demographic that I have always been a part of, the underserved, working middle class of Memphis. So far, this opportunity has been awesome! Bonding with the other VISTAs, who are striving to make an impact through their future endeavors and career goals like me, has been both a learning experience and inspiring.

I love my department, Faith Community Outreach, because of their mission to ensure that congregations and organizations, in the Memphis area, are trained to spot illnesses in order to recommend courses of action, plan healthier meals, connect people with health resources, and help to reclaim the biblical commitment to mind, body, and spirit. My department is small, but they make a big impact within Church Health and the Memphis area through their work. My supervisors, Lauren and Sterling, have been great in making sure that I am comfortable at Church Health. In the end, I hope to gain lifelong friendships and relationships, with the VISTAs and other Church Health personnel, as well as more knowledge on policies in healthcare in Tennessee.

When I am not being a VISTA at Church Health, I like to unwind by watching movies, listening to music, or drawing. I also love to hang out with my best friends from high school and catch up with my friends from college. Since I’m an introvert, my favorite place in Memphis is anywhere I can gather my thoughts, come up with ideas, be productive, or recharge (majority of time it’s at my house). My friends describe me as a very sarcastic and funny individual (I actually don’t know how true this is because I really don’t think I’m funny).

My favorite quote, currently, is written by Oliver Goldsmith. He says, “Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations”.

I think that life isn’t supposed to be an easy route and I have just now started to figure this out. I wish I would have known this last year when I was suffering from after-college angst, but I know that God has a purpose for me and it will be impactful and instrumental in helping somebody.