More than 80 medical students, faculty, and staff from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine spent time Monday volunteering at various organizations throughout metro Detroit in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
OUWB serves metro Detroit in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
OUWB students mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day
On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, OUWB medical students helped prepare lunch at Grace Centers of Hope's William A. Davis Women and Children's Center as part of their community outreach.

More than 80 medical students, faculty, and staff from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine spent time Monday volunteering at various organizations throughout metro Detroit in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

OUWB volunteers helped Baldwin Center, Grace Centers of Hope, Hope Hospitality & Warming Center, Older Persons’ Commission Meals on Wheels, and World Medical Relief.

“From the onset OUWB's mission has revolved around giving back to our surrounding communities and being a community that serves its community,” said Jean Szura, director of service learning, OUWB. “Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is an opportunity to do just that.

“Participating in these different activities can also give volunteers a sense of the multi-dimensional approach to health that is needed,” said Szura. “It isn't just about running tests or finding a diagnosis. It's about providing blankets for warmth in the coldest days, it's about wellness checks delivering meals, it's about providing a nutritious breakfast or a safe, clean haven to take refuge in. There are so many different aspects to caring for others.”

OUWB had a strong presence in Pontiac on Martin Luther King Day.

At Baldwin Center, a human service agency, students prepared and served breakfast as well as organized inventory and packed hygiene kits for clients.

Heather Duenas, director of community engagement, Baldwin Center, said volunteers like the OUWB medical students are critical to the organization and community.

“We have programs six days a week, sometimes 12 hours a day, and we only have about 11 staff members,” she said. “So you can imagine the amount of work that needs to get done…we rely heavily on volunteers.”

Duenas said the OUWB volunteers are “an amazing group.”

“They come in every Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a day a service…and the work that they do is amazing,” she said.

M1 Stephanie Roskelly was among the OUWB medical students at Baldwin.

“I wanted to spend time in the community,” she said. “I’ve created kits for those in need in the past and figured it would be great to come here today.”

Across the street from Baldwin Center, another group of OUWB medical students volunteered at the Hope Hospitality & Warming Center.

OUWB students mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day (2)Students organized donations to prepare for the center’s clients. At Hope Hospitality & Warming Center’s Recuperative Center, a few miles away, OUWB medical students helped clear snow and ice from walkways and helped organize inventory (see right). 

Elizabeth Kelly, CEO, Hope Hospitality & Warming Center, said volunteers are “the lifeblood of our organization.”

“It’s not just the service they provide but the fact that our volunteers bring community into our organization,” she said. “Guests we serve often feel apart from society at large, and having volunteers here changes that.”

M3 Tori Drzyzga, one of the founders of OUWB’s recently launched Street Medicine program, volunteered at Hope Hospitality & Warming Center. The Street Medicine program has worked to establish itself in the community by working with Hope Hospitality & Warming Center guests.

“I wanted to come here because of our connection through the Street Medicine program,” she said. “I just wanted to help out in a different way.”

Drzyzga said she has previously volunteered at Hope and that it means a little more on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“A lot of us get the day off from school and work, but it’s important to remember why Martin Luther King Jr. was such an influential person in this world. Doing small acts of service is a minor tribute to him.”

Less than a mile away, at the Grace Centers of Hope's William A. Davis Women and Children's Center, OUWB medical students helped prepare lunch, cleaned, sorted inventory, and helped prepare a loading area for a truck set to arrive later in the day from Forgotten Harvest.

Amanda Moore, assistant kitchen supervisor, said volunteers like those from OUWB on Monday “are everything” to the organization. She added that the OUWB students that volunteered were “just lovely.”

“They have great personalities, and are so helpful,” said Moore. “The guys just ran through the work I gave them in the loading area and the ladies helping in the kitchen are just awesome.”

M1 Andrew Shanholtzer said he felt it was important to get out into the community on Monday.

“Pontiac is our neighboring city and it feels good to just be out here helping the community,” he said. “We only spent about 30 minutes helping move stuff (near the loading area) and...they were so grateful. I can tell they are super appreciative of us.”

OUWB MLK Day meals on wheelsOUWB MLK Day meals on wheelsIn Rochester, the Meals on Wheels program, offered by the Older Persons’ Commission, welcomed OUWB volunteers as drivers to deliver hot nutritious meals to homebound seniors. The drivers covered seven routes in the Rochester area, making up to 10 stops.

“It’s nice for the students to (understand) the needs of the community and their participation gives our regular drivers a break,” said Karen O’Rourke, manager of Meals on Wheels. O’Rourke said that the drivers often provide feedback on the health of the seniors when they drop off the meal, so partnering with OUWB is a bonus. Medically trained students and faculty members are certainly qualified to assess the wellness of our seniors said O’Rourke.

There were also OUWB student volunteers in the kitchen preparing meals for future deliveries to homebound seniors who cannot shop or prepare meals on their own. The program supports seven cities in Oakland county with all of the meals made in the Rochester kitchen, managed by Becky Wuornos, nutritionist, and a 22-year OPC employee.

“We always welcome the students’ help. They have a good attitude and are always willing to help with whatever we need,” said Wuornos, who also appreciates how quickly and efficienlty the students finish their jobs.

One of M4 Bryan Goldman’s jobs was to divide up loaves of bread into individual bagged slices. He tackled his assignment with a smile.

“This is a nice break. It’s really hard to get away from a rotation,” said Goldman.

Back on campus, In O’Dowd Hall, more than 20 volunteers assembled as many fleece blankets for World Medical Relief. The colorful checked, plaid and striped blankets will be delivered to the association for its clients.

Her blanket complete, Trixy Hall, dean’s office assistant, reflected on the meaning of the day.

“My service today was in honor of Dr. King to continue his legacy of creating a system of unity and love for the betterment of all people,” said Hall.

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected]

Follow OUWB on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.