Partnerships in service build stronger community

By Sally Crocker

Sph Community Partners Unthsc Web

Great things happen when community partners work together, and the collaborations between the UNTHSC School of Public Health and various local organizations continue to grow stronger as more is done to impact the community.

Two years ago, local organizations were invited to campus to meet with SPH faculty and staff to network and to explore community-engagement and volunteer-service opportunities, as well as ways of working together on research, special projects and other initiatives benefitting North Texas citizens.

That year, the SPH contributed 500 hours of community service to various agencies and programs. Since the matches and partnerships were formed, SPH community service has continued to build in a major way, jumping 168 percent in 2019 to more than 1,330 contributed service hours.

In recognition, partnering agencies and SPH faculty and staff who went above and beyond in their community service commitments during 2019 were recently honored for what they do to make North Texas healthier.

Two special partner awards were presented to community leaders representing the Center for Transforming Lives and JPS Health Network.

Carol Klocek, CEO of the Center for Transforming Lives, was honored for her leadership and commitment to helping local women and their children escape poverty and homelessness.

The Center works to break the cycle of generational poverty for Tarrant County women with children though homeless services, early childhood education and financial education. Under Klocek’s leadership since 2009, the Center has expanded to serve thousands of women and children, and the agency’s operating budget has grown to more than $9 million with nearly 100 full-time employees.

Klocek was nominated by SPH faculty member Erika Thompson, PhD, for her organization’s work, as well as her willingness to collaborate on research and service learning projects with SPH students.

Also honored as an Outstanding Community Partner was Rohit P. Ojha, DrPH, who directs the Center for Outcomes Research at JPS Health Network.

A 2010 DrPH graduate of the SPH, Dr. Ojha was recruited by JPS in 2016 to establish the Center and serve as its Director.

His department studies the clinical, lifestyle and behavioral factors that can impact health outcomes of underserved populations. The goal is to build a healthier community for individuals and families across the JPS service area.

Working with Tarrant County Public Health and other area healthcare organizations and providers, Dr. Ojha’s team also collaborates with UNTHSC, offering learning and research project opportunities for SPH epidemiology and biostatistics graduate students.

Dr. Ojha was nominated for his award by SPH Biostatistics and Epidemiology Chair Sumihiro Suzuki, PhD.

In addition to the Outstanding Community Partner awards, SPH faculty and staff honored as heroes for their extra community service efforts during 2019 included Dr. Dana Litt, Danielle Rohr, Dr. Erica Stockbridge, Dr. Erika Thompson, Dr. Misty Smethers, Dr. Thad Miller and recent UNTHSC retiree Ywanda Carter.

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