MEDLIFE’s mission of providing access to medicine, education and development to everyone may be based in Latin America, but it doesn’t end there. One of the most important things that students can take away from the Mobile Clinic experience is the drive to serve in their own communities. MEDLIFE chapters all over the US are partnering with other on- and off-campus organizations to work toward a better world.
Though a young chapter, MEDLIFE at San Francisco State University has taken this message to heart. After forming last year and going on a Mobile Clinic, they decided to find a way to help out in their hometown. So last Friday night, several members of the chapter took a few hours to volunteer at a local church that serves meals to the needy as part of the GLIDE program, an organization that provides various social services in the San Francisco area.
Chapter president Emily Parathara says, “Hundreds of hungry locals lined up to eat dinner. I couldn’t help but wonder about their access to health care — many had rashes and hives on their skin which were probably never seen by a doctor.” Emily says the experience reminded her of her Mobile Clinic experience in Peru. “It just motivated me to be a doctor and reminded me why I’m doing this in the first place. Most of all, it reminded me that poverty is everywhere.”
At the University of Florida, MEDLIFE members did their part by helping to build houses for low-income families in their community. They joined forces with 50 other volunteers for their first group community service project with the local Habitat for Humanity. Says chapter president Michelle Nguyen, “Together, as a community, we helped build Kay and her children a safe, comfortable, and affordable home.”
Volunteering together can also be a great way for chapters to come together as a team and get to know other groups on campus. At the University of Vermont, MEDLIFE chapter members participated in a community event called the Catamountain Classic, where, says president Austin Davis, “we and the rest of the UVM clubs divided up the long trail and attempted to hike it all in one weekend.” The money raised from donations and registration fees went toward the creation of a scholarship fund, in memory of a UVM student, to allow local youth to participate in wilderness education trips.
When looking for the right volunteering opportunity, it’s a good idea to check out local organizations that need volunteers to help with projects related to your interests. MEDLIFE at UGA has formed a lasting relationship with Medshare, a nonprofit that collects excess medical supplies from hospitals and packages the supplies to send to underprivileged communities abroad. Members of UGA’s MEDLIFE chapter often volunteer at Medshare’s Atlanta-based headquarters, and last year, Medshare donated supplies for a Mobile Clinic in Peru. Click here to read the Medshare blog about our partnership here!
Thanks to these chapters, and to everyone making a difference in their community! If your chapter has recently volunteered, please share your story with us at [email protected].