I serve on the School of Health Professions Board for the University of Missouri and my sole reason for serving on the board is to represent rural Missouri and encourage health care providers to seek careers in rural Missouri. It has become one of my personal causes to promote rural Missouri as a great place to both live and work. This past weekend I attended a Community Health Foundation Event aimed at raising funds to provide incentive for health care providers to work in rural Missouri. Not only do I support the vision of the Community Health Foundation, the event has personal ties for me as well.
My mother passed away a couple of years ago after a brief and unexpected bout with a rare form of cancer. Shortly before her death, family and friends established a memorial scholarship to honor her legacy.
My mother was a leader in public health in the state of Missouri, she was a past President of MO ALPHA (Missouri Association of Local Public Health Agencies), she was the administrator of the first accredited health department in the State of Missouri, she lobbied at the state and national level for public health improvement, and she made living in Lafayette County safer and healthier for all of the residents.
The Community Health Foundation administers The Jill Thompson Memorial Scholarship which covers educational expenses for any health care worker in exchange for a commitment to work in Lafayette County and there is extra incentive for those pursuing a career in public health. This past weekend the Community Health Foundation held their annual gala to raise additional funds to support scholarship activities and my entire family attended and participated in the event.
Attending the event is bittersweet. I am supportive of the mission of the organization and I can get behind any cause that encourages and assists the pursuit of rural health care careers. Rural Missouri is underserved by health care professionals and I have special affinity for scholarship opportunities that bring people to, and keep them in, rural Missouri. I am also reminded how much I miss my Mom.
Although I would prefer to have attended the event with my Mom rather than in her honor, it is comforting to know that her legacy lives on. I’m sure she would be proud that she continues to make Lafayette County a healthier place to live, and you never know, one of her scholarship recipients may just be the person who discovers a cure for cancer.