Michigan's AmeriCorps Member of the Month

AmeriCorps Member of the Month - July 2015: Cheryl Fitzgerald, Cherry Health Community HealthCorps

In her first year as a full-time AmeriCorps member with the Cherry Health Community HealthCorps, Cheryl Fitzgerald has contributed to the Community HealthCorps team in a variety of ways.

Community HealthCorps was founded in 1995 by the National Association of Community Health Centers. It is the largest health-focused, national AmeriCorps program that promotes health care for America’s underserved, while developing tomorrow’s health care workforce. Cherry Health is host to the nation's largest Community HealthCorps team, comprised of more than 30 AmeriCorps members promoting health care access.

Cheryl has shown a tremendous amount of initiative throughout her term of service. At Leonard Street Counseling, Cheryl meets with new patients who are seeking services for mental health concerns and assists them with applying for funding through the county’s mental health authority. She is responsible for ensuring coordination of care between each patient’s mental health provider and their primary care provider so everyone stays on the same page with their holistic approach to treatment. Additionally, Cheryl became a Certified Application Counselor to provide application assistance to patients and community members applying for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. She also received training from the Department of Human Services to assist patients and community members applying for Medicaid and the Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s Medicaid expansion program.

Cheryl is an innovator by nature. She is constantly thinking about new initiatives and outreach strategies she can help implement within the organization and in the community. When Cheryl learned about their prisoner re-entry program, she was determined to bring additional supports to this vulnerable population. She led an initiative to bring health coverage enrollment assistance to the re-entry program residents because, in the past, the vast majority of them would exit the program uninsured. Now, the re-entry program staff work with Cheryl regularly and she coordinates a group of Community HealthCorps members to provide one-on-one enrollment assistance along with basic health insurance education for the residents as they approach their transition back into society. Cheryl also started a collaborative team to plan and implement a money management class they recently began offering to the re-entry program residents using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Your Money, Your Goals curriculum.

“Cheryl is an exemplary member of the AmeriCorps program and a tremendous role model for other members,” stated program director Marsha Hazen. “She has clearly proven to be a huge asset on our Community HealthCorps team by demonstrating maturity, responsibility, professionalism, optimism, empathy, vision, organizational skills, and a dedication to improving the health and wellness of individuals in our community.” Cheryl has been selected to serve a second term of service with Cherry Health Community HealthCorps.

For more information about the Cherry Health Community HealthCorps, please contact program director Marsha Hazen at marshahazen@cherryhealth.com. For more information about AmeriCorps, visit www.americorps.gov.