Social isolation is closely linked to overall health and well-being and is a serious concern for those in rural areas. Our research seeks insights into the needs experienced in poor rural areas by utilizing letter writing between students and community agency participants as a research methodology. In the letters, we observed that community participants relied upon friend and family style relationships and even viewed their agency relationships as such. This suggests that transforming "professional helping relationships" into alliances that are less impersonal might be in order. Such relationships and connections seemed conducive to the development of empowering self-efficacy. This finding prompts questions regarding the type and quality of relationships that are built and sustained by providers at rural community-based organizations.



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