In 2018, Melissa Bennett, MD, organized, recruited volunteers and cohosted weekly “Taking Charge of Your Child’s Health” education classes at HomeFront.

Last year, volunteers delivered 35 class sessions that reached approximately 300 people. In the fall, we averaged 14 participants per class. In addition to Bennett, 14 volunteers cohosted a discussion group in their area of expertise.

Topics included: acute illness, how to navigate the ER and medical system, dental health, child safety, asthma, child development, school issues, healthy nutrition/obesity/ picky eaters, breast health, teen health, sexual health/ sexually transmitted diseases, and stress management.

Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) has helped guide HomeFront to create a culture of wellness and health by assisting with quarterly Health Advisory Team meetings. These meetings connect all health-related volunteers — such as nurses, doctors, physical fitness volunteers, nutritionists — as well as HomeFront administrative staff, case managers and child care staff. Together they tackled the shelter’s acute problems like infectious illnesses, as well as long-term problems like smoking, healthy eating/cafeteria food choices, physical fitness and child development.

This year, Bennett was instrumental in developing a relationship between Jon Pletcher, MD, director of medical services for Princeton University Health Services, and HomeFront. Pletcher will help advise the council and fill in as a volunteer doctor for the clinic. Pletcher is a former CHOP adolescent physician who has supported the work of the HHI in the past.

In addition to the sessions at HomeFront, health education workshops continued at People’s Emergency Center, St. Barnabas Mission and Mother’s Home in Darby, Pa., on a weekly or monthly basis.