Three years ago, Muscatine Community School District (MCSD) and UnityPoint Trinity Muscatine Public Health (UPTM) joined forces to help better meet the needs of area children. They created a new, jointly funded position, resource navigators. Designed to help MCSD students and their families find the mental health services, non-profit organizations, and other community supports they need to thrive, Muscatine’s resource navigators play a vital role in helping young residents succeed in and out of school. This school year, MCSD and UPTM have four resource navigators, Paula Alexander, Kelsie Blaesing, Elyse Krees, and Deya Leza, who look forward to helping kids in the community live up to their full potential.
Each of Muscatine’s four resource navigators found their way to the job differently. Both Krees and Leza worked for UPTM previously and started serving as resource navigators in the program’s earliest years. Alexander and Blaesing joined the program this year after experience working with Medicare and crisis stabilization respectively. However, each of these dedicated individuals values their work and the good it does in the community for similar reasons. “I love working with the families and connecting them with all the resources in the area,” shared Leza, a feeling that each of the other resource navigators seconded.
Beyond ensuring that individual students and their families get connected to services that can make a difference to them, all of the Muscatine navigators appreciate getting to help care for the community at large. As Blaesing put it, “I’m excited to be back in Muscatine. I’m from Muscatine and I went to the Muscatine schools, so this is a great way for me to give back to the Muscatine Community.”
Even for resource navigators who grew up outside of Muscatine, the desire to assist our unique community shines brightly. “Even in my short time here,” says first year resource navigator Alexander, “I’ve seen everyone take responsibility to help others succeed. The whole community is like a family.”
As Muscatine’s resource navigators prepare for another year filled with helping many different students access the services that can help them do their best, they look forward to continuing this unique collaboration. “All families have different needs that need to be met, and this program helps meet them, so all students can have success in life,” Krees explained. In her opinion though, getting to help all these different people truly makes her work worthwhile and reminds her of what she enjoys most about Muscatine. “The amount of diversity [the community] has for its size is amazing. It’s an area I hope to get to raise my own kids in, “she elaborated.
Over the next nine months, the Muscatine resource navigators will positively impact many kids’ lives, helping them and others in their families learn about community resources they may not have realized existed and by linking them to valuable mental health services. Through their efforts, they will continue to help make Muscatine an outstanding place to live and raise a family.