Collaboration. It’s a word used often, especially in the field of public health and working with non-profits. Collaboration means working with one or more individuals to complete a project or task or develop ideas or processes. It can help solve complex, systemic problems. In my role as a community wellness coordinator for the Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program, collaboration is a top priority, and necessary when the overall goal is to improve community health.
Collaboration just happens, right?! There’s a problem that exists and we need to work together to solve it. As many of us know, it isn’t that easy. While collaboration is so important to many of us and our work, it can still be a tricky thing to navigate. It’s a process. It takes time to build the trust needed for collaboration to occur and for networks to become interconnected.
Successful collaboration starts with identifying clear partnership and looking for common goals. When we work together, we’re more effective than attempting something alone and can maximize our resources. Working together also tends to generate more creative ideas. As with any relationship, communication is also key for successful collaborations.
One collaboration I’m excited about is our local food pantries working more closely to assist food-insecure families in Morgan County. Our community is fortunate to have committed leaders and volunteers working hard to provide greater access to nutritious food. Their passion for serving others is unmatched.
I’m certainly not an expert on collaboration, but vow to continually work towards improving collaborative efforts in my role and learning more about the topic. My favorite part of collaboration is that it makes our communities a better place. We feel more connected to where we live, and to each other.
In my opinion, this quote, which is attributed to Henry Ford, characterizes collaboration – “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
As we head into a new year, I encourage us all to think about our roles and the organizations we serve and look for ways to improve our collaborations.
Erin Slevin, MPH
Erin Slevin is a Community Wellness Coordinator for Purdue Extension’s Nutrition Education Program in Johnson and Morgan Counties. In her role, she aims to make healthy choices more accessible by partnering with community agencies who strive to make a positive impact on the health and well-being of our communities. To address food insecurity, Erin helps convene and support the Morgan County Food Pantry Coalition. Erin serves on the Board for the Bridges Alliance of Johnson County, a collaborative initiative addressing poverty and also the JCREMC Community Fund Advisory Board. Previously, Erin has served as a Training Coordinator for the Healthy Communities Partnership of Southwest Indiana and a Program Director at the Indiana State Department of Health within the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity. Her various roles have allowed her to support local communities working towards sustainable health change by advancing policy, systems, and environmental change approaches. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Ball State University. Erin is a member of the Leadership Johnson County class of 2019-2020. She lives in Franklin with her husband Ryan and their two daughters.