HOMELESS HEALTH CHAMPIONS
In a bustling cafeteria at the Los Angeles Union Rescue Mission, University of La Verne nursing students waited patiently to share health information with residents. This particular Friday, as dishes clanked and conversations carried across the lunchroom, a baby started coughing.
Students realized this was no normal cough, and within seconds leapt into action, properly treating the baby, and ensuring food was cleared. The young mother clung her baby to her chest, thanking the students repeatedly in Spanish. The team demonstrated the technique a few times afterwards so she would be confident to take action if it ever happened again.
Students say there is never a dull moment at the Union Rescue Mission, which provides homeless services in the heart of Skid Row. Jorge Balladares, a member of the first cohort to perform clinical service at this partnership site, says the time spent serving the less fortunate rounds out the RN to BSN degree program.
“In this field, higher education allows us to broaden the spectrum of how we help people,” said Balladares, a case management nurse at AltaMed Health Services. “This population literally has nothing and is so often forgotten. Many times, we are the first to listen to their health and personal stories and help them.”
Students provide health education and may assist with wellness checks but are often stopped in the hallways for impromptu requests for advice on skin irritations, odd bumps, or even minor injuries.
“People are devastated in every way by homelessness, and they suffer from many ailments, chronic ailments, untreated chronic conditions, foot problems. You name it. Heart problems, heart conditions go untreated. And to have nurses on-board walking around the mission caring for our guests has just been tremendous,” said Andy Bales, president and CEO of the Union Rescue Mission.
Community engagement at the University of La Verne has been one of the legacies since our Church of the Brethren beginnings. While the university has not been directly affiliated with the Church of the Brethren for many years, the strengthand relevance of those values remain.
Annually, the university holds a Community Engagement Day, where students explore local community organizations and join them on a day of service. This year, the university linked up with about half a dozen organizations from Ontario to Irwindale. From organizing a food pantry and creating food packets for remote countries that don’t have access to food, to planting community gardens and carrying out activities at a senior center, students spent the day offering support to our local communities.
The university’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement organizes and creates such opportunities for students through 28 community partnerships throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. Meanwhile, community engagement is incorporated in more than 125 university courses. Nearly 9,000 hours of service were captured last year, but the collective impact goes beyond recorded hours. Students have been inspired to find work that incorporates such services or to make it a habit to give back wherever they live.
BRIDGING THEORY, PRACTICE & LEADERSHIP
The Integrated Business Program connects finance, management, and marketing into a 16-unit course block. Students demonstrate their skills by forming a company, determining the target market and product, developing a business plan, seeking a loan from a bank, and selling their product throughout the semester. All proceeds are donated to charity.
In addition to entrepreneurship, students learn social responsibility by donating proceeds to a nonprofit charity of their choice. Recent recipients have included the American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish, and the Leroy Haynes Center, a local provider of mental health and addiction recovery services.
Students who have completed the program say it was the “highlight of their academic career,” “reinforced what we learned in class in the real world,” and “helped me understand business as a whole, where all the disciplines are needed and work together.”