By Margaret L. Farnham
Trinity student Bernard Cason has received an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, a national award that funds graduate student projects designed to address unmet health needs and promote leadership development.
The Schweitzer Fellowship program was launched in select cities in 1992 as a way to identify and develop a network of leaders focused on health-related community service. Columbus joined the list of cities last year, and Cason was one of 15 students selected from the local chapter’s inaugural list of fellowship applicants.
Applicants submitted a proposal for a service project that was then approved by a board. The projects must provide at least 200 hours of service through an existing community agency and fall under the supervision of an academic advisor.
Cason’s project, which is still in the development stages, will provide training in emotional process and dynamics based on Bowen family systems theory to individuals in under-served populations, such as homeless individuals and the unemployed, in an effort to reduce stress and anxiety incurred within these populations.
Cason was trained as a workshop facilitator and serves on the staff of Healthy Congregations Inc., an ecumenical and interfaith program dedicated to building healthier and more resilient families, communities and congregations through leadership development. The offices of Healthy Congregations and its director, Emlyn Ott, are located on Trinity’s campus. Dr. Ott will serve as one of Cason’s advisors. Professor Jim Childs will also serve as an advisor throughout the year-long project.
In his proposal, Cason noted that the national unemployment rate in December, 2010, was
14.5 million, with 44.3 percent unemployed long-term. With his training ,background and passion, Cason hopes to construct a program that will benefit this population and those who serve them.
“I had been working with Healthy Congregations and I was thinking and praying about how these tools might benefit others,” he said. He hopes to train individuals who work with agencies that serve the unemployed and homeless populations, as well as individual members of these under-served populations.
“The project will customize the curriculum of Healthy Congregations…to provide education through training and consulting with various community organizations,” said Cason.
The Columbus program is hosted by the Ohio State University’s School of Medicine and funded through the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.