Are You Ready to be Engaged?

A Call to Interaction

Think about your most important relationships? Did they happen overnight? Likely not. They took time. Time to get to know each other. Time to talk. Just time.

Sometimes we forget that community relationships are the same. They take time to develop. Time spent face to face.

Let me give you an example. I laugh when I recall an occasion when I was called into the administrator’s office while at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  The administrator informed me that our community engagement group (there were only five of us) had spent more money in travel in two months that the rest of the department in an entire year. What were we doing, she asked?

We were, I explained, investing in a significant amount of windshield time as we assisted building regional networks throughout south Texas.  She didn’t understand what that meant.  Simply put, it meant making connections with practitioners, community partners, and even patients at multiple times to develop trust.  Confused, she shook her head and said the she was going to have to discuss this with the Principal Investigator.  Luckily, for us, the Principal Investigator understood that community engagement cannot be done from an office in some academic institution.  Unfortunately, the trained accountant never did.

So, are you ready to be authentically engaged with communities?  Are you willing invest the time necessary to build long-lasting relationship…even if the funding streams trickle away?  People in our communities know and understand what needs to be done AND they are the best source of solutions.  Our work is not just a call to action, but it is also a call to interaction. It is a call to fully engage our head, heart, and hands to the work before us.