Stanford Community Outreach Partnership Efforts (SCOPE)
Loto Reed, associate coordinator in the division of primary care and population health, went into her annual review armed with an idea: a staff community service program to build motivation and togetherness in the division. Probably no one, including her, could have imagined how quickly and successfully the program would come together.
Her division chief, Sang-ick Chang, MD, MPH, clinical professor of primary care and population health, was very receptive to the idea. And when Chang brought it up at the next division staff meeting, a handful of staff members were immediately interested. By February 2018 Stanford Community Outreach Partnership Efforts (SCOPE) had begun, and in March the group hosted its first event at an East Palo Alto homeless shelter, ProjectWEHOPE, with 10 volunteers including Chang and Jonathan Shaw, MD, clinical assistant professor of primary care and population health.
Chang has already noticed how SCOPE has affected his staff. Since the group started, he says, “There’s a palpable sense of shared mission, fun and pride, with more interaction and support among the staff.”
A Local Effort
The group is well-organized: 10 core members rotate responsibilities, and each month a different member is responsible for choosing a volunteer organization and coordinating the effort. Events are often in the evenings, to accommodate staff work schedules.
SCOPE has also partnered with three core organizations: ProjectWEHOPE in East Palo Alto, Hope’s Corner in Mountain View, and HealthTrust in San Jose. Events are varied, ranging from packing lunches at a homeless shelter to preparing boxes and helping clean the kitchen at San Jose Health Trust.
Reed says that these partnerships are about making a difference where you live. “As a team, we decided to focus on building a strong relationship with our community partners so we can have an impact, and we wanted to keep it as local as possible,” she explains. “We have communities right in our backyard that can really use the support. There’s so much we can do to help our community,” she adds. “It’s just nice for our neighbors to know that Stanford cares.”
The partnerships also allow for progress over time. “We’re hoping to show volunteers how their efforts are improving the lives of the less fortunate,” Reed explains. “And it’s really helping everyone — not just the people that receive the help, but also our volunteers in SCOPE, because they get a real idea of what’s going on in our communities.”
Faculty are getting involved as well. “Everyone’s so excited and it’s actually increased the interest for the faculty to do some collaborative work with the staff. These events have really built a bridge between the faculty and staff,” Reed states.
Chang agrees: “People, both faculty and staff, come to Stanford to be part of a noble cause, and that nobility extends not just to academic and clinical contribution, but to social and community contribution as well.”
One of their major efforts this year was a supplies drive for the Ravenswood after-school program in East Palo Alto. SCOPE members Amanda Pecoraro, administrative associate for primary care and population health, and Tayler Kiss-Lane, fellowship program coordinator for primary care and population health, created an Amazon wish list based on Ravenswood’s needs. Faculty and staff went online and picked items to donate, which enabled SCOPE to collect over $2,000 worth of supplies.
A Vision for the Future
SCOPE members also wanted a concrete way of tracking their contributions. They set a goal of 200 volunteer hours for 2018, and as of September, they had already completed 167 hours. The group ran events through the end of 2018, including a winter care package drive with packages of clothing and other necessities to help keep the less fortunate warm during the winter season as well as “an uplifting message to keep their hearts warm,” according to Reed.
2019 will be a year for strategic planning to determine what the group will look like moving forward. Monthly lunch meetings help everyone prioritize. The majority of the volunteers are from primary care and population health, although they have also worked side by side with staff from other divisions. “We’re hoping this can spark interest for other staff members to collaborate and share ideas and events so that we as a Department of Medicine community can come together and give support where it’s most needed,” Reed says.
Chang shares her sense of purpose: “My hope is that SCOPE will add weight to long-standing community partnership efforts around the campus,” he says, “to tip the scales for Stanford Medicine to become known in our local community not just as an international scientific entity, but one that truly cares about the health and well-being of our local community.”
SCOPE and other staff-led initiatives like it are a new way of looking at wellness: By helping others, we also help ourselves.
Learn more about SCOPE.
Compassion into Action
Team members of the Primary Care and Population Health division are passionate about SCOPE and the values that led them to community service in the first place. They’ve adopted the motto “Putting Compassion into Action.” Here’s what they have to say:
Margaret Wei, finance manager, calls the SCOPE events “very uplifting,” adding that they give her “a sense of joy, hope, optimism, faith and relief.”
Tayler Kiss-Lane, fellowship program coordinator, called volunteering for SCOPE “extremely rewarding and fulfilling, in addition to being incredibly important.” She adds, “I believe it’s our social responsibility to help our neighbors and fellow human beings in need.”
Kimya Stidum, education program coordinator, calls service “a core value.” “If I profess to love my neighbors yet do not offer what I can to support them when they find themselves in need of support, then my values and actions are not in alignment and that is a problem for me,” she states.
Amanda Pecoraro, administrative associate, grew up with grandparents who did charitable works and encouraged their grandchildren to do the same. “I guess they rubbed off on me,” she concludes. “I’ve always tried to volunteer around the holidays or at different events. I currently sit on a board in my neighborhood that fosters opportunities for our low-income residents. So when Loto asked if it was something I would be interested in, there was no question about it.”
Anthony Duong, program coordinator, appreciates the sense of power and community that SCOPE brings: “I love how we empower other faculty and staff members to make them realize they have the capacity to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Nadia Safaeinili, qualitative researcher and project manager, says SCOPE “gives the division the opportunity to practice our mission in a very personal and real way.” She adds, “SCOPE could not exist as it does without Loto’s thoughtful leadership, organization and warmth. She cares so deeply about serving others and that makes our group shine!”
Sang-ick Chang, MD, PhD, clinical professor in primary care and population health, is deeply impressed by the work SCOPE has done: “The competence, diligence, and idealism with which the participants approached this project is a window into how high-performing and idealistic our staff really are,” he says. “I have been truly impressed with their passion and successes, and it makes me realize how lucky we are to have such a talented team.”