A Faith Community Nurse Visits the White House

Ruth E. Syre, MSN, RN-BC
HMA Member

Our former mayor and current city council member invited a local pediatrician and me to accompany her to a visit to the White House for a Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties celebration at the invitation of Michelle Obama. My invitation resulted from my role on the steering committee of Live Healthy Lynchburg, a community collaborative. We traveled to Washington for the September 16 visit. The morning session consisted of a breakout session with other medal-winning cities of similar size to focus on evidence-based strategies to continue progress on identified goals. The afternoon ended with a panel of three elected officials sharing their stories of success and hopes for the future. The highlight of the day were the remarks from the First Lady. We were gathered in a small auditorium in the Eisenhower Building, and we all took turns having our photo taken in front of the podium. (Some of us tried to stand behind the podium, but were politely asked to step away by the Secret Service.) Let’s Move! Has been a hallmark initiative of the First Lady’s tenure.  While thanking the attendees for their participation and successes, she was passionate about encouraging us to stay committed to this work for the long haul, even after she has left the White House.

The recurring words for the day were partnership, collaboration and commitment. I believe those words essential for growth in any community effort toward health improvement.  Every attendee spoke of building upon the collective impact that partnership evokes. I believe we are learning that none of us can do this work alone, that we have common goals, and that we are all in this together.

It was an honor and privilege to attend this celebration. I was honored as a Faith Community Nurse, as a representative of my health care system, and as a member of my community. The challenge is to take this moment and grow from here.