'This Is a Labor of Love:' Hundreds from USA volunteer to connect homeless with services.
Posted on February 1, 2016
More than 320 students, faculty and staff from the University of South Alabama joined Housing First and other service agencies to transform lives at Mobile Project Homeless Connect’s annual half-day service event at the Mobile Greater Gulf State Fair Grounds. This event was for the homeless in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
“I have been volunteering at this event for the past several years, and it’s such a great service for those individuals and families who are homeless in our community,” said Morgan Watkins, a social work major in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We provide our services through the USA Student Run-Free Clinic for homeless clients at 15 Place. We are providing health and wellness. This is a labor of love.”
The clinic is a collaboration between the students and faculty of the USA College of Medicine; College of Nursing; several departments in the College of Allied Health Professions, including physician assistant studies, speech pathology and audiology; the department of social work in the College of Arts and Sciences; as well as the Auburn Harrison School of Pharmacy at USA.
Watkins, a native of Montgomery, Ala., said she has learned a lot about serving others, and it has changed her life forever. In addition, she has received real-life experience as a USA student who has volunteered as an escort and managed mental health assessments, among many other duties.
Dr. Alison Rudd, assistant director of the USA Human Simulation Program in the College of Nursing and faculty advisor for the student-run clinic, said they offer the free clinic to the homeless clients at 15 Place from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. every Saturday. They see each client who makes an appointment.
“Our students are learning to work as an inter-professional team, which improves the overall health and wellness of the patients they are caring for,” Rudd explained.
During Project Homeless Connect, clients were each paired with a volunteer escort who would help them navigate a wide array of services, including legal aid, medical, health exams, mental health services, dental and housing.
Some of the additional services included, Delta Dogs, a community supported and volunteer-based organization providing free spay and neuter services and the Delta Bike Project, a non-profit community bicycle shop dedicated to improving access to transportation. Their “Time is Money Program” is held every Sunday from 12-5 p.m., where volunteers can come clean, repair bikes and do other projects to earn $10 in credit towards a bike of their own.
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