homeless Outreach 1

School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Students Start Community Outreach to Help Homeless

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A group of 90 student volunteers from the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences contributed and packed 800 kits to benefit the homeless population in the local area.

Of the 800 kits, 400 consisted of meals and the other 400 included hygiene items. The KGI volunteers also included an inspirational quote in each kit that was prepared.

Third-year pharmacy students Monika Ibrahim and Udi Nassar initiated the community outreach event and called it “An Impacting Reach.” The program started in Fall 2016 with the P-3 School of Pharmacy class and in Spring 2017, the participation expanded to all three classes.

“This project benefits the homeless population as well as the healthcare personnel that volunteer,” Ibrahim said. “It is critical for healthcare professionals to understand what hardships many people can go through. It is just as important to give back to community in any way possible. The population we are helping now can be our patients in the future, and understanding their situation leads to the ability of providing better healthcare.”

For the KGI School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the culture of community service starts in the first year as part of the Professional Development course. The class features five hours of community service per semester and later increases to 10 hours.

“This instilled the importance of community outreach as we also worked on reflection papers to describe the event we were involved, how it made us feel and how we can carry this on in our future careers,” Nassar said. “Community outreach opportunities have allowed us to reach out to serve our community, whether it be the underserved community or just those in need.”

The generosity of the KGI community extends beyond a single class. The event leaders asked for donations from student government and money quickly poured in.

“The willingness to support the event did not stop there,” Ibrahim said. “Some volunteers made flyers, some gathered additional donations, and the outcome was unbelievable.”

The results came in the form of the kits that provided an immediate impact for the homeless. The meal kits included a bologna sandwich, large bag of chips, granola bar, and a bottle of water. The hygiene kits included toothpaste, toothbrush, sunscreen, toilet paper, soap, wipes, deodorant, socks, underwear, and napkins.

Ibrahim, Nassar, and the other event leaders also created guidelines and procedures that will help future KGI students expand the program in the 2017-2018 academic year and beyond.