Community Outreach Project
Current tabloids and news magazines contain images of famous celebrities flaunting their summer beach bodies. Headlines such as “What’s her secret?” or “How did he do it?!” are stretched along the cover. Articles on quick fixes and fad diets have taken front and center, missing the opportunity for optimized health education.
Over the past few years, Loma Linda has received worldwide recognition for being the sole “Blue Zone” in the nation. According to National Geographic author Dan Buettner, a Blue Zone is defined as an area where people live measurably better and longer. After being exemplified in special features on CNN, National Geographic and Oprah, it is devastating to realize that this acclaimed city is located in one of the unhealthiest counties in California. So what are we doing about the community in our backyard?
It is our mission to protect the health of entire populations, and right now, our own immediate community is in danger. The city of San Bernardino offers a testing ground as we provide them with lifestyle changing habits and opportunities which can be replicated in other regions. Our students also stand to gain as meaningful learning opportunities are provided.
Former President Bill Clinton has become an advocate for a cleaner, healthier lifestyle soon after his health scare. When asked how his heart complications affected his lifestyle, Clinton told CNN, “I essentially concluded that I had played Russian roulette … I was taking in a lot of extra cholesterol without knowing if my body would produce enough of the enzyme to support it, and clearly it didn’t or I wouldn’t have had that blockage. So that’s when I made a decision to really change.”
There are others within our community who as a result of health, spiritual, or personal decisions, made radical changes to their lifestyle. One such person is Debbie. She is a daily reminder that an individual can change his or her life for good – the right way. Debbie works for the School of Public Health Department of Nutrition with five years of service under her belt. She works in an environment that provides opportunities for change.
Debbie struggled with weight issues most of her adult life. She tried many diets, but none of them would last. “This is not what people like to hear, but fad diets just don’t work.”
A few years ago, her family received a major wake-up call when her husband, Marlon, suffered a heart attack and stroke just two weeks after his 40th birthday. At that time they returned to the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet Debbie had been raised with. Overall, they were unhappy with the quality of their health and the increased use of medication. Debbie was already on two blood pressure medications with another prescription on its way to treat her high cholesterol levels. “My husband and I felt we had to put an end to this.” And that’s exactly what they did.
Marlon and Debbie began their search for something better. “We started paying attention to the ingredients in our food … when you find out what the unpronounceable ingredients are in your food, it will scare you. Many of the ingredients are terrible – some are downright dangerous.” The couple continued to research and looked into various alternatives to popular diets. After extensive investigation, they decided to try a 12-day vegan diet. Those 12 days, turned into weeks, and after five months, the two had lost a combined total of 135 pounds – just from the change in diet alone!
This couple chose to not purchase any workout videos, take special supplements or gulp down any magic pills. When it came down to it, Debbie and Marlon returned to biblical health practices and educated each other about the processed food they once enjoyed. Thus education is vital!
Since their pivotal lifestyle change, their need for certain medications has declined or disappeared completely. Debbie’s cholesterol has dropped almost 50 points and Marlon hasn’t had a need for his implanted defibrillator. “It’s an ongoing process, but we’ll be in much better shape to face some of the challenges of getting older.”
What motivated Debbie and Marlon to change their health reaffirms the reason why our School was established – to educate people on lifestyle and biblical health principles. “People need to know what they are really eating,” says Debbie.
With evidenced-based research from more than 50 years of the Adventist Health Study, it is our duty to share the findings from this research with others. Educating our students, our neighbors, and our global community is essential to the success of public health, which in turn, benefits the wellness of our community.
In order to utilize our research, faculty, and student resources, we need your help. Our capital project highlighted in the enclosed brochure has many aspects. This year, our primary focus is the student support in this outreach project. Students from all departments of the School have an opportunity to use the skills learned in the classroom within the community.
Today, I think about our students and their commitment to Loma Linda University. Beyond the classroom, they require the resources to go out into the community, assisting with education, empowerment, and advocacy efforts. They also benefit by gaining the vital practical experiences they desire and require. We need support from you—our alumni and friends.
Please join us, your Loma Linda family, by making a significant gift. I pray you can see our vision and offer your financial support as we move forward. Thank you and may God continue to bless you.
Helen Hopp Marshak, PhD, MCHES
Acting Dean & Associate Dean, Academic Affairs
PS: Enclosed is a brochure highlighting major areas of focus we will service using the gifts given to the Community Outreach Fund. We are passionate about expanding our programs and equipping our students to serve our community. Please make a gift today.
Dean Penniecook has just welcomed her third child and will be returning to her role as Dean in a few weeks.
Olukemi Famurewa Adeoye, BDS, MPH
School of Public Health
Loma Linda University
24951 North Circle Drive Nichol Hall 1708
Loma Linda, CA 92350
Office: (909) 558-7013
Fax: (909) 558-7948