Nearly 70 medical students from Oakland University’s William Beaumont School of Medicine were dispatched to metro Detroit on Saturday, October 22, with one goal: to make a difference.
Created by the former USA Weekend magazine, National Make a Difference Day was established as an annual event on the fourth Saturday in October. Organizations like OUWB have carried on the tradition.
On Saturday, the students volunteered at the Capuchin Conner Center in Detroit; The Baldwin Center and Lighthouse in Pontiac; and at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event in Rochester. About two dozen students were also on campus, making blankets for populations in need.
Rose Wedemeyer, Ph.D., director of teacher training, oversaw the making of the blankets and said Make a Difference Day is important.
“It helps instill the idea that (students) weren’t just doing community service before they got into medical school to make their applications look good, but it’s really an integral part of OUWB” , she said.
“I appreciate that they are willing to sacrifice their time to spend it providing for others.”
Anna Heath, M1, was among the OUWB volunteers for Make a Difference Day.
“It’s nice to step away from learning to help one day make a real impact now,” she said as she sorted through clothes at the Baldwin Center.
“We can see the change we’re making immediately and it really feels good.”
Advance against breast cancer
Students at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event led a cheer station located on the boardwalk route through Rochester City Park to encourage and congratulate cancer survivors who have been there and those whose battles may be in progress.
The enthusiasm of the M1s elicited hugs, high-fives and good vibes throughout. Participants wearing survivor scarves shared their joy and even posed for photos with the students to capture the memory.
“Volunteering and serving the community throughout your life is so important, especially for people who become doctors,” Kellan Martin said.
|Students prepare to cheer on participants in the Making Strides event.|
“It’s definitely an honor to be here to connect with the community,” said Joe Solomon. “It’s important for us as medical students to be here and to be present, because that’s often what matters most to people – showing them that we care.”
Solomon understands the difficulties of the battle against cancer. He supported two of his aunts during their journey with breast cancer. He is grateful that both are now survivors.
“What I learned from taking my aunts through this process is to be there for them. And that could be little things like giving them a call or texting them,” Solomon said “It’s hard to watch a loved one fight through this; it’s grueling. So it’s important to be here today with my peers to be there. We encourage courage in our patients.” to fight cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society website, more than 3.8 million breast cancer survivors live in the United States today, but more than 290,000 people will be diagnosed with it this year.
Survivors who attended Making Strides wore scarves with “Survivor” emblazoned in pink lettering. They marched in solidarity with family and friends. The day was theirs to embrace their bravery.
“It was really rewarding to be here and cheer them on today,” said Frosilda Pushani.
Dorai Morante accepted.
“We will one day be the ones who have patients going through (cancer), so being here today for the support is really important,” Morante said.
The “really meaningful” covers
|Students work on tie covers for World Medical Relief.|
About two dozen students were at OUWB’s O’Dowd Hall making blankets for distribution to Southfield-based World Medical Relief, which will send them around the world.
The group made about two dozen thick fleece blankets.
“For OUWB to be able to provide them with something that the students got their hands on and helped create is a really meaningful and special thing,” Wedemeyer said.
Madison Saunders, M1, was part of the group. Saunders said she was involved in similar projects as an undergrad at Central Michigan University and fully understood the importance of blankets.
“It’s super important to be here because as future doctors, we’re going to be working in the community,” she said. “When we have free time like this, we have to give back.”
Lighthouse ‘couldn’t do it’ without volunteers
|Students work on craft kits that will be distributed by Lighthouse.|
At the Pontiac Lighthouse, several students helped the organization prepare the distribution of Thanksgiving meals. Students have set up sorting stations and prepared craft kits for children to be distributed along with food. (Anyone wishing to donate to the Thanksgiving program can do so by clicking here.)
Lighthouse expects to provide around 2,300 meals this year.
Gabby Fagan, volunteer and special projects coordinator at Lighthouse, said the program would not be possible without the help of volunteers like those at OUWB.
“It’s so important that people come here of their own free will and in their spare time to help us,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Alex Biel, M1, was one of the Lighthouse student volunteers.
“It’s so important to help out the community so everyone can enjoy Thanksgiving,” she said. “It’s just about being part of the community as a student at OUWB. I really want to be able to give back to the community, hopefully one day I will end up becoming a doctor.
Baldwin Center helps connect
At the Baldwin Center in Pontiac, OUWB students and faculty worked to clean up raised beds that hadn’t been used for a few years. They also helped organize the centre’s locker room.
Volunteers spoke about the importance of serving the community.
“It’s important to be here because these are our potential future patients,” said Maame Obeng, M1. “In medicine, it’s very easy to focus on drugs and diagnostics, but we also need to look at the factors that influence these diseases.”
Marvin Paguio, M1, shared similar thoughts as he helped clean up the garden beds.
“It’s important to learn more about the communities we will serve as future physicians,” he said. “Connecting our medical education to the community helps make it more real.
Rebecca Pratt, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Basic Studies, was among the Baldwin Center volunteers. For future doctors, she said volunteering helps the most with perspective.
“When you better understand what the community you’re sending your patients back to is like…you start to think more about aligning your treatment and their aftercare with what’s available to them,” she said.
For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, Marketing Writer, OUWB, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.
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