AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Julia Deziel, joined the Behavioral Health Equity Corps (BHEC) in October of 2020. She is currently serving at Jefferson County Public Health. She was kind enough to answer some questions about herself and the service she is doing as part of the program.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Vermont, I moved there when I was four. I went to the University of Vermont and graduated in May of 2020 with a neuroscience degree and a music minor. I knew I wanted to come out to Denver and knew I was interested in addiction medicine. I saw this position and thought it was perfect.
I’m applying for med school currently to start in August of 2022, in which I want to eventually go into addiction medicine. First, I want to go to primary care and family medicine and specialize.
How did you get into volunteering?
Service has always been on my mind. My parents did Peace Corps, my mom did it twice. They always talked about how incredible their experiences were. I didn’t think I wanted to do it. I first got started in early school through church and I started playing violin in nursing homes. I got into volunteering in high school through service clubs. By freshmen year of college, I was volunteering in the pediatric wing of the hospital, and at a Ronald McDonald house for women and children.
What do you most enjoy in your free time?
Running, currently training for a half marathon. Kind of a pandemic thing I’ve been doing. Playing the violin. I have a wedding music business. I do a lot of reading, and love to ski as well.
What advice would you give people considering going into service?
Make sure that you match well with your host site. It matters a lot, remember that when you are getting interviewed, you are also getting a feel for your host site. Being prepared to live on the stipend. Knowing to use food stamps and other benefits. Realizing that it can be a sacrifice financially and plan accordingly.
If you could visit one place, anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Japan. Primarily for the skiing. I have been wanting to ski there for years. I also love sushi and would love to have proper Japanese sushi.
What is one item you cannot live without?
What is your favorite hobby?
Seasonally dependent, skiing ini the winter, and running in the summer.
Tell us about your host site. How do you, as a BHEC member, fit into their vision of supporting communities?
I serve with Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH). I work with the Opioid Substance Misuse Coordinator. I assist with substance use partnerships, and the syringe services program. I am also a part of the Harm Reduction work, whether behind the scenes or in outreach. I help organize the monthly substance use coalition, which has 4 sub workgroups, and create a newsletter. I’m also working with Lakewood Police Department LEAD program and a new Bridge buprenorphine clinic program to connect community members to resources.
What attracted you most to work with BHEC/CORP?
The name worked for me, knew a little about opioid responses in Vermont. Wanted to learn more about how other states were dealing with the epidemic and learn more about addiction medicine. Thought the program seemed like a perfect fit.
What programs/projects are you currently working on?
Administering satisfaction surveys to people as part of our syringe programs. Survey is looking at bias and discrimination that has been experienced, as well as what resources are being accessed and used.
What impact do you feel these projects/programs will have on the community?
Bridging the gap between community providers and community organizations, connection from connections. Seeing how people are using Jefferson county resources. Also excited about the LEAD program’s potential to divert arrests.
Tell us about the support you receive from your host site.
It’s good, it’s a lot! I meet with my boss at least once a week, team meetings every two weeks. Have mental health check ins with one of my colleagues regularly.
What would you like to gain from service at this host site?
I have some practice in grant writing, some more leadership skills and confidence. I am planning for overdose awareness day. I am going to be leading some of our work groups in the coming months. Good practice administering surveys to participate as it will help me clinically in my future field.
What is the most rewarding aspect/proudest accomplishment of your work/position?
Reducing stigma against people who use drugs in Jefferson County at large. A lot of my projects are working toward that while increasing data driven information about resources.