For more than 25 years, nursing students in the University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions have volunteered at local homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and schools to promote public health in Hartford, Conn. This is part of a long-standing community outreach program called Project Horizon that the University developed to help intercity populations.
Committed to making a difference, the nursing students work one-on-one with various organizations to help them solve specific health issues. Every Wednesday for eight months, Lisa Loffredo ’17 helped South Park Inn homeless shelter in Hartford, Conn. start a new healthy-eating program.
“It is a very humbling experience and it brings you to really open your eyes to this population,” says Lisa. Clearly touched by her experience, she explains not only has the program helped the homeless people eat healthier, but they have also become more open and willing to share their stories.
“You can just see the transformation in their attitudes. They are driven and motivated to go back in society,” Lisa explains. But the homeless people are far from the only people benefitting from the program.
Through her experience, Lisa has learned to think outside box to motivate people, which has been helpful in her career as a nurse. "I know that what I’ve learned here, I can use in my personal and professional life."
Leonie Jackson ‘17, another nursing student in the University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program explains that Project Horizon has helped her understand her patients better. Leonie’s project was based at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts Magnet School, where her team worked with students to reduce stress levels at the school.
Through the program Leonie learned to think about where a patient is coming from, to not take somebody at face value, and to dive in a little bit more to see what is there to be uncovered. When working with patients she asks herself, “What are their strengths and how can we motivate them to do better for themselves?”