Stay Connected: Union alumni respond to COVID-19 (Second Edition)

Welcome to the second edition of Stay Connected where we share how Union students and alumni are responding to the pandemic.

Criminal Justice Management Grad on the Frontlines of COVID-19

Sgt. Leonard La France speaking at a virtual Eureka City Council meetingSgt. Leonard La France is serving on the front lines of the COVID 19 pandemic, working to prevent a potential coronavirus outbreak among the local homeless population in Eureka, California.

As the leader of the Eureka Police Department Community Safety Enhancement Team, La France and his department are “working with the homeless community to get individuals connected to resources” he said in a recent interview with the Times Standard.

His team works to ensure the homeless are getting free meal services while maintaining social distancing. They have added a handwashing station to the area and are handing out donated ponchos to the homeless. La France also understands the necessity to coordinate new protocols for sheltering the homeless who have recently been released from jail.

While the pandemic is affecting all populations, the homeless are particularly vulnerable under the best of circumstances. The incidence of psychological issues/mental health, and other underlying health issues exacerbates one’s vulnerability. Combine these factors with the lack of sanitary facilities and the impossible task of keeping six feet apart in crowded homeless shelters and camps, and the incidence of contracting the virus is multiplied.

The Eureka Police Department’s Community Safety and Enhancement Team (CSET) and St. Vincent de Paul are not letting COVID-19 stop their Free Meal outreach. Watch the video to learn more about how things have changed since the pandemic began.

According to WIRED, the homeless have little access to toilets, much less toilet paper. Those places where the homeless could often find shelter or use a bathroom—libraries, gyms, fast food restaurants—are largely closed. Community services like shelters and soup kitchens are running out of room and food, as well as workers, exacerbating the challenges the homeless already face.

Sgt. La France is a 2019 graduate of Union’s Criminal Justice Management degree program developed by and for law enforcement professionals designed to prepare officers to move up the ranks into supervisory, management, and executive positions within the criminal justice system. He is a current student in Union’s Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) degree program designed to prepare current and emerging managers to take a thoughtful approach to leadership and invent their own invaluable solutions to complex issues. Learn more about the MSOL.

Military Moms Share Breastfeeding Tips During COVID-19

Is it safe to breastfeed during the pandemic? Alumna Amy Barron Smolinski executive director of Mom2Mom Global and Breastfeeding in Combat Boots and her team of volunteers have collaborated with Mattos Lactation to produce a 3-part blog series focused on breastfeeding during the pandemic, pregnancy and birth during this time, and helping breastfeeding service members who may be activated, mobilized, or deployed in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Mom breastfeeding in uniform

Photo courtesy of Mom2Mom Global and Breastfeeding in Combat Boots

The organizations are the only national nonprofit organizations dedicated to information, advocacy, and support for breastfeeding military families.

Union Institute & University’s is one of the few universities in the country that offers an online degree in Maternal Child Health in Human Lactation at both the bachelor’s and master’s level. Amy serves on the UI&U Pathway 2 Lactation Studies Advisory Panel. She is also an Advanced Lactation Consultant and Certified Lactation Counselor. She is a graduate of Union’s Masters of Arts History & Culture major.

If you have a passion for lactation and counseling expectant mothers and mothers of young infants about feeding and caring for their children, be sure to check out the Maternal Child Health in Human Lactation degree.

Stay Connected during these challenging times by sharing information, helpful tips, and encouragement to your fellow Union students and alumni.

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