Every day, in her work to reduce and prevent homelessness in Hawai‘i, Anna Stone puts to use the skills she learned while earning her Master of Public Health at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Anna directs The Salvation Army's Pathway of Hope initiative (POH) and Family Services Office (FSO) in Hawai‘i. POH aims to stop cycles of crises and inter-generational poverty with housing, jobs and a supportive community. With FSO, Anna oversees a food pantry, rental and utility assistance and weekly outreach services to people in need. She also writes grant proposals, develops programs, promotes self-sufficiency in communities, and looks for ways to expand social services.
"Public health is not just about the health of the body," she says. "The promotion of public health is the promotion of a resilient community."
Before coming to Mānoa, Anna had already been working to improve community health. She led an organization in the Philippines called the Monday Afternoon Club, which sponsored cleft palate and lip surgeries for children in need. She also worked in fundraising and event planning for the American Heart Association in Hawai‘i and as a volunteer for the Christian organization Youth With A Mission.
"I wanted to find a way to leverage all my experiences to create meaningful changes in communities in need," she says.
A friend told her, "That is public health!" and recommended she consider the UH Mānoa program.
Her classes at UH Mānoa in needs assessment and health program evaluation were particularly influential. She earned hands-on experience, worked on a new initiative at the Atherton YMCA, presented findings to the YMCA's board, and wrote a mock grant proposal for an early childhood development program in Waiʻanae.
These experiences taught her an important lesson about community relationships. "The community wanted us 'learners' to succeed," she says. "People love to invest in people who are open to serving."
She also gained a new perspective on the importance of the surroundings of any community. "Our environment shapes who we are and what we become," she says. She completed her Master of Public Health in 2012.
In her work at The Salvation Army, she combines the know-how from years of fundraising and social services with the expertise she gained at UH Mānoa. "I use my skills in networking and developing relevant programs, aiming for cross-sector collaborations and better public policies."
A career in public health is a way to impact the world, she says. "Public health is like a canvas.Tell me what part of the health system you want to fix, and paint your perspective on the canvas."
Photo courtesy of Anna Stone. Pictured from left to right: Anna Stone; Marc Alexander, Executive Director of the Office of Housing, City and County of Honolulu; Gladys Quinto Marrone, CAE, CEO of Building Industry Association – Hawaii, Major Jeff Martin, Divisional Leader of The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division; Nani Medeiros, Executive Director HomeAid Hawai'i.