Report by Mireya Orozco
Suncoast Community High School
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On November 1, the Palm Beach County Youth Leaders began their Health and Human Services Day at Quantum House. We enjoyed breakfast and were introduced to the coordinators of the organization. The Quantum House is truly an inspirational place. The organization offers families a place to stay if they have a child currently in the hospital. They do many fundraisers to ensure that they can ask parents to pay only the minimum price of staying in the home. After our visit, many Youth Leaders are interested in volunteering at Quantum House.
The next stop was St. Mary’s Hospital. When we entered, Don Chester gave us an overview of the hospital’s history and specialties. Here are a few facts: the hospital was founded in 1938; it has a strong Catholic-based tradition, and believes strongly in patient confidentiality. The most impressive treatment we heard about was the limb lengthening procedures developed by the Paley Institute. Carolyn Eaton explained that it is a very long and complicated process; however, the doctors that specialize in this are able to help those people who may have been born with one leg shorter than the other become longer and have two legs of equal length. Many people from around the world come to St. Mary’s Hospital to get this done. We also toured the hospital and even got to look in the trauma center.
We were then off to a brand new facility, the Philip D. Lewis Homeless Center, where we were greeted by Ezra Krieg. This stop was interesting since most of us have misinformed ideas about homelessness and who is homeless in our community. I know I speak for my peers when I say we now have a better idea of what homelessness is and an awareness that it is more common than we thought.
The Hanley Center, a rehab and treatment center for substance abuse and addiction, was next on our tour. We were given a lovely lunch and had the chance to speak to the chef, Tim Pearce, who has cooked for the Queen of England! The presentation at the Hanley Center was very informative. Our guest speaker, Kevin Bandy, was very descriptive about his previous experience with drug use and recovery and how it greatly affected him. I thought he was a great speaker for a young audience since everyone gave him our full attention (even after all the food we had just enjoyed). I thought the Hanley Center speaker was the most influential of the day. It is important to know what drugs do to us from a young age. I felt that we absorbed Kevin’s presentation because it was an interesting first-hand account.
Our next and final stop was at Vita Nova where we met Executive Director Jeff DeMario. Vita Nova is a place that offers newly independent foster children a place to live and important life skills training. Current members of the program shared their experience growing up as a foster children and struggles they faced once they were on their own. We also participated in a session with Vita Nova staff about budgeting and food shopping, an example of trainings they give to young people as they prepare to leave foster care.
Overall, Health and Human Services Day was a great experience. It was a day filled with a lot of information and gave a better insight about the various organizations in our county.