Maya Angelou once said, “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” Wouldn’t it be awesome if your job made that possible? For many people who work in healthcare, they are able to be that rainbow. One such person is our very own Lynn Sauve. Lynn is helping to prevent diabetes one Coloradan at a time.
How Volunteering Created a Purpose with Passion
“I started as a volunteer with 9Health Fair in the summer of 2014,” says Lynn. Within a year, that volunteer role lead to a part-time job here at 9Health Fair. “I knew Marte Meyer (then 9Health Fair Vice President, current interim CEO) from previous employment and I also knew the 9Health Fair Director of Volunteer Engagement at that time. Both approached me about getting involved in the Diabetes Prevention Program. I enjoy program design and implementation so I thought this would be a good fit. I also met the YMCA leader who we were looking at partnering with on a grant and I knew that the mission of YMCA and 9Health Fair were strongly aligned.”
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 86 million American adults have pre-diabetes. That’s 1 in 3 people.
“I honestly didn’t know a lot about diabetes prevention at the time,” Lynn says. “But as I learned more, my enthusiasm grew since it is such an important public health issue.”
Noting the many million Americans who have pre-diabetes and are unaware, developing the Diabetes Prevention Program at 9Health Fair seemed “like a mission worth my time,” says Lynn. She says the personal and financial toll that Type 2 diabetes takes on an individual can be overwhelming. She wanted to have a part in helping to change that.
The Perfect Partnership
Lynn says that 9Health Fair learned the YMCA was considering pursuing a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) Grant. “After some discussions, it was decided to become Grant partners… We are currently in the second year of the three-year grant. YMCA had the capacity for teaching this series of DPP classes and we had the capacity for recruiting individuals. Our 9Health Fair participants come to our fairs because they have some level of interest in learning more about their health.”
One of the ways they recruit for the DPP program is to call 9Health Fair participants who have had a blood sugar or an A1 C value that falls into the pre-diabetes range. “I get a list of participants from Client Services (Department) according to zip code and make calls to those people. I either leave a message or talk to them directly. If I leave a message, I let them know that there is a diabetes prevention program being planned at a location near them and I briefly let them know that it is a series of classes, is under a Grant, and currently at no cost to them. Otherwise, it would cost over $400.” If they are interested, she then puts them in contact with her partner at the YMCA.
The Most Rewarding Part of the Job
“I also talk to our participants directly if they answer the phone. This can be the most rewarding part of my job. If I talk to people who are at a readiness level for this series of classes, I know that it will change their lives. We talk about their risk factors and how they can manage their weight. I also give a brief description of the overall program and the nature of the classes. So many of our 9Health Fair participants are so appreciative for the call… Most often, these participants will tell me how much they appreciate and love the services we offer.” Lynn says she makes calls one a day a week and in that day she’ll usually make about 35 or 40 phone calls.
Lynn believes the program is successful for two reasons. “First, is our partnership with the YMCA. We work well together in a detailed and seamless way… Secondly, the recruits from 9Health Fair are special. One of the challenging part of the DPP program nationally is to recruit for the classes in the first place. Many people have their head in the sand, unaware or not motivated to really make lifestyle changes.”
Lynn believes our 9Health Fair participants come because they are interested in their health. “So they already have a readiness level to begin with,” she notes. “Once they learn that they are at risk for pre-diabetes, we have their attention. They likely have seen the devastating effects of Type 2 diabetes on their family members and are motivated to make lifestyle changes. You could say that we have a “captive audience”. Knowing that these classes are currently under a grant right now and at no cost to them is an added incentive.”
If you’re concerned about your risk for diabetes visit one of our remaining 9Health Fairs this November. There you can talk to medical professionals to find out if you should be tested for diabetes.