Changing Lives, One Patient at a Time

Danielle Matthews

Senior Danielle Matthews wants to help people improve their lives by making better food choices. She’s interested in how the chemistry of nutrition affects chronic illnesses, and she also plans to become a registered dietitian, eventually earning her master’s degree.

Matthews is currently completing her co-op at 11th Street Family Health Services as a Health Education Outreach Program Assistant. She first learned about 11th Street Family Health Services during her co-op interview process. She wasn’t very familiar with the center or its services, but still she pursued the interview, and received a warm welcome when she arrived.

“When I came for my interview, everyone was so kind and welcoming. I knew this would be a great place to work,” she said.

Matthew’s responsibilities are about as varied as the many services offered at the center. As part of her duties, she helps teach various health education classes and prepares the materials for each class. In addition, she helps out with the 11th Street Urban Garden, which grows some of the fresh produce used in cooking and nutrition lessons.  

Though her experiences are much more hands-on than classroom work, Matthews believes her time in class helped her learn how to be a diligent worker. What’s more, her textbook knowledge of food safety and nutrition has served as a foundation for making decisions in the workplace and interacting with patients.

Though day-to-day activities keep her busy, Matthews always leaves time for the people who come into the clinic. “I also feel like interacting and building relationships with the patients plays a big role in this position,” she said.

In fact, her greatest concern, she said, is the 11th Street community and the patients.

“I wasn’t aware of the many obstacles and hardships the community is facing every day,” she said.

Matthews said she is grateful for the hands-on experience her co-op affords her, but also because it gives her the opportunity to help the patients. Her experience at the center taught her how this particular clinic is different from other healthcare centers.

“11th Street has a holistic approach to healthcare,” Matthews said, noting that patients may come in to see a primary care provider, a behavioral health consultant or dentist, or even to meet with a personal trainer and attend a variety of health and fitness programs. She added, “11th Street is not just your typical clinic; it is a health center that essentially offers a better quality of life because we truly care about the well-being of our patients.”