“Interning with the Gwinnett Coalition has by far been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.” – Chelsea Ballew

My name is Chelsea Ballew and I serve as the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services’s summer intern. I am finishing up my studies at the University of Georgia with a degree in Health Promotion and Behavioral Science.  Upon beginning my internship, I have been encouraged to document my experiences. When I started my internship with the Gwinnett Coalition, I never could have imagined all that I would gain and the opportunities I would have to give back to the community I grew up in. Interning with the Coalition has by far been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

Here is just a snapshot of the many experiences I have had this past week:

July 8, 2019:  On Monday, I started the day emailing all of the registered participants of the Stewards of Children training. The Stewards of Children is a two- hour training that educates adults on how to react responsibly to the reality of child sexual abuse. It is the only evidence-based training proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes and change child protective behaviors. When I first started planning the Stewards of Children training is seemed so far away. I am very proud of how this event has come together as 24 individuals from 9 different organizations were trained.  It has been a great learning experience. I thoroughly enjoy planning and executing events such as this one. On Monday I also had the opportunity to gain more knowledge about one of the Coalition’s partner agencies, View Point Health. Prior to my site visit, I had minimal background knowledge of View Point Health and the services they offered. I was shocked by the wide range of services offered by the organization and that they are 1 of 22 agencies in Georgia with these services. The Chief Executive Office, Jennifer Hibbard informed me that in 2018 alone they served 16,000 individuals across all of their mental health, substance abuse, and developmental/intellectual disabilities services. I knew they had a variety of outpatient services, but I did not know they also had residential facilities for people with substance abuse. I found it intriguing just how many services were offered at this one facility. Jennifer also provided me with some great information about ViewPoint that I can share with people on the Gwinnett Helpline. For example, I did not know they offered walk-up services until 2pm and assisted clients on a first come first serve basis. After my site visit, I gathered all of the materials for the Stewards of Children training and filled out the certificates for the facilitator to sign. This was the most time-consuming part of my day, but I was more than glad to do it. I wanted to get everything together today so I was not rushing last minute on Tuesday to get everything in order.

July 9, 2019:  On Tuesday, I spent most of the morning getting last minute items in order for the Stewards of Children training. After lunch, I visited Annandale Village, the intellectual and developmental disabilities community is one I have always had a passion for. I absolutely loved their facility and all of the work they do. I cannot believe there are only three facilities in the country like Annandale. What I thought would be an hour tour turned into three. They have a very unique facility. I love how they take their residents on various excursions throughout the week from baseball games, going to the movies and visiting the grocery store. This is a community I believe is highly underserved. Annandale goes above and beyond to allow their residents to live out a long and purposeful life.

I got to meet several of their residents. I even had one of their residents show me his half-court shot. It warmed my heart to spend time with them! I am really glad I got to visit Annandale during my internship. When I got home, I could not stop talking to my mom about my visit.

July 10, 2019:  On Wednesday, I participated in the Stewards of Children training I had been planning for several weeks. This week was one of the most rewarding weeks thus far. When my supervisor, Keith Fenton, first gave me the task of planning this training, I was kind of nervous since this was like nothing I have ever done before, but it went better than I could have ever imagined. Not only did I learn a lot about hosting and planning a training session, but I also learned a lot about child sexual abuse. I have worked with children for most of my life from babysitting to teaching children in afterschool programs, but this training has changed my outlook forever. This course provided me with the steps and knowledge to be able to help a child in need. As an individual who will eventually have children of my own this training also showed me how to talk to my future child about sexual abuse and sex in general. My parents never talked with about sexual abuse and this is something I will be very upfront with my child about so they know not only what is right and wrong, but also that I am an adult they can trust if anything was to ever happen. I believe this training should be administered to any person who interacts with children or has children of their own.

July 11, 2019 On Thursday, I attended a Social Storytelling training hosted by the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia. I thoroughly enjoyed the training and gained valuable insight into social media for nonprofits. The topics covered in the training included where to find content, how to measure marketing efforts, mapping out the target audience and fundraising. A lot of the information covered was similar to what I learned in my marketing and health communications courses, especially the SWOT analysis. I found the statistics they shared in regard to the number of Facebook and Instagram users to be shocking. It was surprising to me that the highest demographic on Facebook is people ages 25-34. I was also surprised that the highest traffic on Facebook occurs midweek between one and three o’clock.  Just last year $300 million dollars was raised for non-profits solely off Facebook birthday donations. I have really enjoyed all of the training and seminars I have attended throughout my internship. After the training, I assisted on the Gwinnett Helpline for the rest of the day.

July 12, 2019:   On Friday, I worked the on the Coalition’s Gwinnett Helpline. We had a large number of calls, I filled up almost two call sheets. We are still having a ton of callers requesting financial assistance for rent. Helpline Director, Suzy Bus, and I both had quite a few calls from Spanish speaking individuals. I am glad the Gwinnett Helpline exists as it provides a valuable resource to individuals and families in need.