Shortly after joining Drexel University in September 2015, new vice president for Health and Health Equity Loretta Sweet Jemmott and her longtime colleague Marcia Penn, MEd, started planning a Community Wellness HUB in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone. The first thing they did was listen.
“I believe if youʼre going to have a presence in the community, then you need to work with and service the community. And you need to create partnerships,” Penn says.
ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY
They engaged people through one-on-one meetings, focus groups and meetings with leadership and community organizations. “We started creating the Community Wellness HUB programs based literally on what the voices of the community were saying was needed,” Penn says.
The HUB, which opened in the Dornsife Center in April 2017, offers free health and wellness programming and disease prevention education, including screening, counseling and referral services, to Mantua and Powelton Village residents. It also provides clinical treatment for uninsured residents.
ʻAHA MOMENTS ALL DAY LONG ʼ
Penn started as a teacher and then worked for nonprofits before spending 20 years in marketing and sales for a major healthcare company in Philadelphia. She started working with Jemmott as a trainer for an HIV/AIDS research curriculum Jemmott and her husband created at the University of Pennsylvania, and came to Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions when Jemmott retired from University of Pennsylvania to join Drexel fulltime.
Penn believes that having a greater purpose in life includes being open to “the little things that give you those ʻahaʼ moments. For me, I think you should have some ʻahaʼ moments all day long. Because theyʼre out there.”