You’d be amazed what you can accomplish with a pot of chili
For an organization that serves the underserved and at-risk, Aspire Indiana/Aspire Indiana Health is constantly searching for new ways to connect people to the services they need.
That can mean bringing in new patients, but also finding more ways to help those who are already receiving some kind of service -- whether that be primary medical care, behavioral health or support programs addressing social determinants of health.
For Julie Foltz and her infectious disease team, one breakthrough moment resulted from something as simple as a pot of chili.
One of the services they provide on a regular basis in Madison County, Ind. is a needle exchange program aimed at reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases like hepatitis C. The Madison County Harm Reduction Program (HARP) provides clean needles as well as testing, referrals, counseling and support.
Foltz’ team found that some people who used the Harm Reduction Program were eager to learn about other services. They hung around, talked to the counselors and learned about treatment options.
Others, though, were in-and-out clients: they came in during needle exchange hours, got their new syringes and left -- often in five minutes or less. This represented a population of people dealing with substance abuse that wasn’t getting access to all the services they may have needed.
The infectious disease team came up with a novel idea of how to bridge that gap: they whipped up a big pot of chili and put it out during HARP hours.
Suddenly, people who came and went quickly lingered for a bowl of hot, delicious food. Many people served by the HARP program already face hunger as a daily issue. By providing them with a free, filling meal, it also meant they had to stick around.
New conversations sprung up, relationships were launched and existing ones deepended -- not just between clients and Aspire staff, but also between people using the program. There were more opportunities for learning and support. People who were fearful about being tested for HIV discovered they already had a small community of people eager to lend a hand.
As a result, the Madison HARP program has experienced a marked increase in testing and other benchmarks for combating infectious disease.
All it took was a little compassion -- and comfort food.
Julie Quigley started her career as a school-based counselor, including work in inner-city schools. Even since moving to psychotherapy, education has continued to play a central role in her professional and personal life.
While busy with her job and raising three daughters -- now ages 10, 11 and 13 -- Julie returned to school to obtain her doctorate of Philosophy in Leadership, with a specialization in Counselor Education and Supervision, from the University of Cumberland. The Counseling Department and the Student Success Committee recently gave her its Excellence in Academics award.
She also holds master’s degrees in school counseling and mental health from Butler University, and a bachelor’s degree from IUPUI.
In July, she will take the exam to become a full-fledged Licensed Mental Health Therapist (LMHC). She is currently licensed as an Associate, working as a staff therapist at the Aspire Indiana clinic in Carmel. Julie specializes in helping adolescents going through one of the hardest transitions in life.
“The most rewarding thing about my job is having the opportunity to walk with my clients through their life journey,” she said.
She vividly recalls her first client: a girl who was being bullied at school to the point where she was fighting with her parents to stay home so she could avoid the abuse. She eventually stood up for herself and actually looked forward to going to school each day.
A lifelong counselor to students and a student herself, Julie is now passing on her knowledge and love of learning to the next generation. She has been an adjunct professor at Butler, teaching organizational behavior, as well as at Indiana Wesleyan University, instructing in mental health and school counseling theories and techniques.
She currently teaches Sunday school to kindergartners at Our Lady Of Mt. Carmel, where her family is active.
“I feel like I’ve been called to this profession to encourage and connect people with not only their purpose in life, but spiritual values as well.”
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Call for Entries for the 4th Annual Celebrating the Artist
Aspire is now accepting consumer artwork to be reviewed by the Consumer Advisory Committee and recommended for purchase and placement at our newly renovated Bolin building in Anderson, IN. All forms of media will be accepted for consideration.