|Pharmacy student Cristin Kelly administers a glucose test.|
The mission field can be as close as your own back yard, as students, faculty and staff of the Gregory School of Pharmacy have found.
For the second year, pharmacy school volunteers spent a week during the summer visiting cities along Lake Okeechobee to conduct health screenings, distribute health education materials and share Christ’s love with local residents.
“We know there are people in our back yards who are struggling, not only with medical needs but physical, spiritual and financial needs as well,” said Dr. Jamie Fairclough, assistant dean for assessment and assistant professor of social and administrative sciences.
In all, the group provided 117 blood pressure and glucose screenings; distributed health education and other materials to more than 100 people; led six children’s activities with 87 children; conducted two health education talks; and distributed educational resources to about 100 senior residents in recognition of World Elder Abuse Day.
Joining Dr. Fairclough were four faculty and staff members and 10 students. The mobile entourage began the week by providing blood pressure and glucose screenings at the Muck City Fest community event in Belle Glade.
The next day, they visited the Lighthouse Café, a Belle Glade agency that serves hot meals to the needy. The PBA group offered health screenings and led four activities with 10 children. They also assisted agency volunteers with food setup and meal distribution.
That afternoon, they traveled to Pahokee to deliver two health education presentations and participate in four different children’s activities with about 75 young people at New Hope Charities in Pahokee.
The week’s children’s activities included making necklaces out of beads, hosting a water fun day and telling the story of Noah’s Ark through a puppet show. Sarah Reeg, a second-year pharmacy student, said she enjoyed working with the children most of all.
|Student Sarah Reeg volunteers at a children's outreach event.|
Also during the week, the team provided health screenings and helped with food distribution at the First United Methodist Church of Clewiston, and members gave a health education talk to about 100 high school football players during the annual NFL and National Guard High School Player Development Football Camp in Pahokee.
The group later handed out flowers and resource information cards to elderly residents of two senior residential facilities in recognition of World Elder Abuse Day. The PBA students also had a unique opportunity to spend one day providing patient care with members of the medical team at Palm Glades Rural Health Clinic in Belle Glade, Dr. Fairclough said.
The volunteers said the experience was beneficial to them in other ways also. "Although our trip was meant to minister to others, we ourselves were being ministered to as a team," said second-year pharmacy student Manasseh Heeralall. "We were able to do a lot of work out there, and it was all for the honor and glory of God."
Reeg said she found the entire experience to be humbling in many ways. “Serving the community of Belle Glade opened my eyes to the poverty that many still experience in the United States,” she said. “You don't have to leave the country to find people in dire need of help.”
The Belle Glade mission trip was one of four mission trips organized through the Gregory School of Pharmacy this summer. The others were to Brazil, Costa Rica and Guatemala.