robertsWhile serving in the Army, Dr. R. Adams Cowley, affectionately known as the father of trauma medicine and founder of Shock Trauma, coined the term “golden hour” to describe a crucial period of time. He observed that many traumatic injuries could be stabilized if the patient could be transported to a military hospital where a surgeon was present within one hour of the initial injury.

As I wrapped my brain around this concept during a tour of University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center, I could not help but to question myself: In my day-to-day life, how can I help someone during their golden hour?

Last August, I applied to be considered for a Baltimore City School Board Commissioner. In that moment, I chose to be intentional and show up during the golden hours of some of the district’s most vulnerable families. Combining my lived experiences and professional skill sets, I realized that I could potentially help shape the educational trajectories of 80,000 Baltimore City Public School students.  Like the clients I serve every day, I choose to show up for the next generation of Baltimore. In these times, they are often unaware that they are in a crucial period of time in their lives–their golden hour, and I am choosing to model the same thinking as Dr. Cowley.

Over the course of my life, I learned various examples of disabling practices that cause trauma to people by way of “redlining,” inequitable community funding models, and many occasions were groups of people were discriminated against for race, religion, or some other unique identifying characteristic.  Major trauma has the potential to leave long-term disabilities or even cause untimely death.

Now, just so we are clear, these traumatic injuries may not come by way of a motor vehicle collision or with a weapon.  Perhaps it may be a person or family representative of the United Way’s Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed Report. Perhaps it is a new participant in the Center for Urban Families’ “Strive” program, or even a youth attending a local mentorship program. There are families within every neighborhood, community, and jurisdiction that–at any time–can and perhaps will experience a severe traumatic injury and will be in need of a City Neighbors version of Dr. Cowley.

To my City Neighbors family, I challenge you and I need you to, in your personal and professional lives, help someone during their golden hour. Thank you.

~Shantell Roberts, Parent, City Neighbors Hamilton