OUWB students celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering
Group photo of O U W B medical student volunteers in white lab coats
OUWB medical student volunteers are all smiles after their evening of interacting and educating the community during the Chandler park Academy Health Fair & Taste Fest.

In celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., OUWB students spent the week of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day participating in a series of volunteer activities, including the Health Fair and Taste Fest at Chandler Park Academy and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service.

OUWB is one of many schools across the nation that participates in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service each year. This year, students were able to choose from four different local volunteer opportunities. Some students prepared and served breakfast at the Baldwin Center in Pontiac, some cooked meals for home-bound seniors in the Rochester area, and others delivered these meals.

M1 Andrea Hess chose to donate her efforts to the Hope Warming Center in Pontiac, an organization that provides shelter to homeless adults and, as of 2015, provides a specialized shelter where homeless patients can receive proper post-hospital care until they recover their strength. Hess spent the day cleaning and painting the walls of this special recuperative care center.

“Volunteering is a very humbling experience, and I feel it allows me to gain perspective,” she says. “The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others is the reason I chose to become a doctor, and volunteering allows me to help others throughout my medical school journey.”

Later that week, OUWB M1 and M2 students, faculty and staff joined Oakland University's School of Nursing and Healthy Detroit to share their knowledge and passion for health with the community during the annual Health Fair and Taste Fest. The event, in its sixth year, invited Chandler Park students, their families and members of the community to visit booths and stations, where volunteers were ready to present them with pertinent health information, often accompanied by an activity or a snack. They also offered free medical screenings, from eye exams to blood pressure readings.

Joseph Aderemi and Keri Jones wearing white lab coats at the Chandler Park Academy Health Fair and Taste Fest
Class of 2020 medical students Joseph Aderemi and Keri Jones
discuss their work at the health screening tables at the Chandler
Park Academy Health Fair & Taste Fest.

OUWB Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Chapter President M2 Joseph Aderemi, with the help of the SNMA executive board members, managed the organization of the event from the student involvement perspective. “We worked with students and student organizations at OUWB to recruit volunteers for the various stations that were designated for the health fair,” he explains.

The key role of community service

Hess and Aderemi believe that community engagement is a crucial aspect of being a compassionate, empathetic physician, as it creates both a bidirectional flow of information and gives current and future physicians the opportunity to inspire those around them. “Future physicians need to learn about what is important to the community and what exactly the community needs,” Aderemi says. “In addition, the community benefits by having their needs met, questions answered and concerns addressed.”

Ultimately, Aderemi hopes that the community gets more out of the health fairs and other volunteer projects than the screenings and shots. “I think one of the most important themes that we want to pass along is that we, as future physicians, are training to take care of our community, and that we are invested in their health and well-being,” he says. “I sincerely hope that our message is received.”