FUMC Hurst and TCU’s Public Health Nursing Program

    Aug 19, 2021 | by Rev.Matt Ybanez

    In 2013, FUMC Hurst and TCU’s Public Health Nursing Program, spearheaded by professor and church member Dr. Pam Frable, entered into a sacred partnership bolstering ministries with African immigrants attempting to settle in this community. Since then, Dr. Frable has kept a steady stream of TCU nursing students at our church engaging with immigrants from this community. It began as a parallel option providing resources to ELL (English Language Learning) students in FUMC’s English classes. From there it has grown and taken new forms that continue to lead this community of faith in serving the immigrant community with access to resources and services that will help establish a foothold for those families as they transition into a new and different culture. 

    In the earlier years, student nurses from TCU worked with Rev. Dr. Joseph Kazadi and other immigrants in our church to assess what needs and challenges immigrants faced when moving into this area. They taught important conversation skills like how to speak with, interact, and ask questions of doctors and medical professionals so that immigrants could more fully participate in their own healthcare decisions. In 2014, nurses developed a financial literacy series to teach critical money management skills like writing checks, identifying and protecting sensitive information, and understanding financial terms (especially related to credit and debt). 

    Then followed resources about other essential functions of living here like driver’s licenses, car maintenance, resume writing, childcare, and introduced secondary education. As the program continued to grow, Dr. Frable and her students recognized that a complex network of support and resources were necessary to help immigrant families to get established, and so they embarked on a community needs assessment to determine whether an immigrant welcome center. They found that no single organization in the area could effectively connect an immigrant family to all of the necessary knowledge and services they needed, thus there was a significant need for an immigrant welcome center. This research culminated in a community presentation where the data was presented to a wide range of community members and stakeholders both inside and outside of FUMC Hurst. At this time, none of the organizations in the community have taken on the project of establishing an immigrant welcome center. FUMC remains a critical juncture in helping to connect immigrants to these services, but as Dr. Frable’s assessment concludes, more can be done. 

    Most recently, Dr. Frable’s students developed and piloted a “Caring Conversations” program designed as a family coaching program that pairs volunteers familiar with the community, culture, and language with families who are still working to get settled in the area. Even in the midst of pandemic, they showed that the Caring Conversations program, also called “Conversation Partners” could survive as a virtual community, and this year Dr. Frable’s goal is to assess whether this is a sustainable model of serving families that FUMC might continue so that her students may move on to what is next. 

    FUMC Hurst has learned and gained much thanks to the work of Dr. Frable and her students. Each new initiative moves us one step closer to another spoke on the wheel of necessary resources and services for any seeking to acclimate to life in Tarrant County. At this time, the church seeks volunteers who may be willing to work in the Conversation Partners program to help coach and mentor an immigrant family. The commitment would be one hour per week over seven weeks in the fall. Contact Rev. Matt Ybanez or Rev. Dr. Joseph Kazadi for more info. 

    We give thanks for this continued sacred partnership and for the ways TCU’s Public Health Nursing students help us respond more faithfully to the needs of the community around us.

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