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Intern discovers links between situations and birth outcomes in Northeast Florida

April 9, 2019

Photo credit: Mayuri Patel


In honor of National Volunteer Week, April 7-13, United Way of Northeast Florida is highlighting volunteers from the community nominated by the organizations they serve. 

When Mayuri Patel interned for Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition, a United Way partner leading a cooperative community effort to reduce infant mortality and improve the health of children, childbearing women and their families, she was vital to the organization’s everyday tasks, but it was her research and data mining for the Coalition’s Azalea Project that left a lasting impression. The Azalea Project works to break the cycle of substance use and prevent substance-exposed newborns. While researching 2017-18 birth outcomes for previous Azalea Project clients, Mayuri discovered links between situations and birth outcomes and organized old data, paving the way for new discoveries and evidence-based programming.

Here’s what Mayuri had to say about her volunteer experience:

What would you say is the most rewarding feeling about volunteering?

Volunteering comes with many different rewards. Seeing the difference volunteer work makes within the community setting is extremely rewarding in itself. I enjoyed seeing how the little things such as, clothing drives and life courses made a difference to the ladies in the Azalea Project. The work done at the Azalea Project is amazing; it’s largely impacted so many women and continues to help guide them through any and all obstacles they may face on their motherhood journey. Knowing that you’re part of a team striving to make a difference everyday is great feeling!

Describe the person or event in your life that inspired you to give back to the community.

I would have to say everyone around has always volunteered and given back to the community. Being surrounded by family members and friends who are thoughtful, dedicated and inspired to help others truly is motivating and inspiring in itself.

Describe a person or event that occurred while volunteering that confirmed your reasoning for volunteering.

Realizing the importance of community classes and giving was evident when interacting with the women of the Azalea Project. The donations help them tremendously as do the ‘life classes. They provided lessons on topics which help the women feel empowered and allow them to gain independence, such as budgeting, finances, nutrition and health resources.

What key community issue are you passionate about fixing/changing across Northeast Florida?

I am passionate about increasing access to affordable health care, wellness and nutrition to mothers and children across Northeast Florida. I enjoyed completing my internship with Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition because it allowed me a glimpse of how public health measures and policies can have a large impact within the community.

What are some lessons volunteering has taught you?

Volunteering has taught me that it’s important to continue to be a compassionate and caring person. I enjoyed meeting new people, interacting with the community and making a positive difference. It’s rewarding learning new skills and taking on different challenges. I learned to become adaptable as well as detail oriented. I believe it’s important to continue to bridge medicine and public health to communities across Florida.

How you can help

No volunteer effort is ever too small to make a big impact on the community. You,too, can join Mayuri in the fight for community change by becoming a volunteer. To learn more, visit unitedwaynefl.org/volunteer.