The students from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) are no strangers to community service, clocking more than 18,000 service hours during the 2015/16 academic year. In fact, students have supported the community during service days for more than 10 years, but this year was different. This year the outpouring of compassion and service exceeded expectations with students placing the needs of the flood victims first.
On Saturday, July 30, more than 200 first- and second-year WVSOM students demonstrated their dedication to serve at 14 sites in Greenbrier County, many supporting flood recovery efforts. WVSOM students went to Rainelle and White Sulphur Springs to work, and work they did. Without hesitation, many students donned hazmat suits and masks and climbed into small entry points under homes flooded more than a month prior. Their task was to remove water-soaked insulation and mud from below the homes, rotating shifts into the small dark areas. Once removed, the students safely disposed of the material in large bags before heading off to the next home in need. Other tasks included mucking out homes, sheds and campers still wet from the flood.
Community members trying to rebuild their lives since the water receded were especially grateful. White Sulphur Springs resident Nathan Lewis thanked the students. “It’s such a blessing. I wasn’t expecting so many people to come. It’s just awesome. Thank you, guys.”
The “WVSOM Cares” event was not the first time WVSOM students provided flood relief in their community. Within hours of the devastating flood, WVSOM students were out in groups addressing essential needs for recovery.
Faculty physicians accompanied West Virginia National Guard members door-to-door to assess the needs of the people. Donations poured in from the WVSOM family and alumni.
Many students continued long hours of volunteering every day in the week following the flood, and every weekend since, WVSOM students can be found donating their time, talents, and energy to helping those in need.
Second-year student Anthony Barlow is committed to the ongoing effort to help community members affected by the thousand-year flood. “I feel like I made a difference after the flooding. This is my third time helping with flood recovery, and each time we come out we chip away at the overall main goal of our community. That’s why I keep doing what I can to help out.”
WVSOM student community outreach coordinator and second-year student, Lisa Smith, organized the “WVSOM Cares” event in conjunction with the United Way community service effort, organized by executive director for the Greenbrier Valley, Erin Hurst.
“This has been WVSOM’s largest community service event to date. Students appreciated this opportunity to learn about the community and work with community members at both our United Way partner sites and in sites impacted by the flood this summer. We expect that this tradition of service will continue to thrive this year,” said Smith.
WVSOM President Michael Adelman, D.O., D.P.M., J.D., is proud of their commitment. “In addition to the tremendous demand of medical school, our students are demonstrating their incredible compassion as they strive to support the health and well-being of people in our community. I am certain they will continue to work tirelessly throughout the long road to recovery.”