From the moment a medical student steps on the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s campus, the future physicians are instilled with the part of the school’s mission that states that “WVSOM is dedicated to serve, first and foremost, the state of West Virginia and the health care needs of its residents.”
Those words – and the actions taken by students – didn’t ring more true than they did in the weeks following the record flooding that took place on June 23 in southeastern and central West Virginia. Just a few days after the storm subsided, student volunteers provided hands-on assistance to residents in communities that were impacted by the storm.
But WVSOM students know that recovery efforts will last for months, which is why volunteers are committed to providing ongoing assistance in flood relief. One way students will provide relief is through the “WVSOM Cares” event, scheduled for July 30 in communities throughout area counties.
The event will take place in conjunction with the annual United Way community service effort that was established to promote the value of volunteerism and increase awareness of local agencies and schools. It is also an opportunity for first-year medical students to get acquainted with their classmates before diving into the rigors of medical school.
Each year, a little more than 100 students volunteer – by painting schools, landscaping playgrounds, walking animals at the humane society and various other physical labor tasks. This year, however, may require more work than ever before with a high number of groups being tasked to help cleanup flood homes. About 265 volunteer spots have been secured.
Ethan Stephens, WVSOM Student Government Association president, was one of the students who helped with flood cleanup immediately after the storm. He explained the importance of medical students getting involved in local communities – not just in time of need.
“WVSOM is a great community and we feel a big connection to the communities in Greenbrier County and around West Virginia,” he said. “We will be rotating and living in these rural areas. We are all people and we need to help each other in time of need.”
Some of the “WVSOM Cares” sites include the Child and Youth Advocacy Center, Alderson Hospitality House, United Way of Greenbrier Valley (City National Bank), St. James Episcopal Church, Monroe Health Center Union Site, Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, Greenbrier Episcopal School, High Rocks Educational Corporation, Montwell Park, Muddy Creek Mountain-Payne/Bowes Build, Lewisburg United Methodist Church, Mt. Tabor Baptist Church, town of White Sulphur Springs, town of Rainelle, WV VOAD and flood affected areas.