The Arkansas Colleges of Health Education students coordinated a Day of Service this past Saturday, following their week of service during National Osteopathic week.
Sydney Despain, a student very involved in community service, wanted to give other students the opportunity to participate in volunteering activities through their college. She reached out to her friends and Charitee Floyd, ACHE’s Student Services and Activities coordinator.
“It was Sydney’s idea and Sydney’s vision to have something like this,” Floyd said. “We kind of tried to model it after the United Way Day of Caring. The hope is each year to make it bigger and better, expand upon it.”
The ACHE’s week of service included the following events:
Tuesday, April 19
Lunch and learn with United Way of Fort Smith on their service in the Fort Smith Community.
Wednesday, April 20
Lunch and learn with the Degen Foundation for healthcare and education.
Thursday, April 21
Blood drive in the ACHE parking lot from 1 pm. to 5:30 p.m. with the Arkansas Blood Institute.
Friday, April 22
Kickball tournament on the field in front of ACHE. Dinner provided by BBQ Club. Admission per person is a canned food item to benefit the local Community Clearinghouse organization.
Students who attend ACHE but relocated to a different rotation site hospital could still sign up for opportunities in their specific community. Statewide, more than 50 student volunteers participated in the day of service. Volunteer sites included Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith, Little Rock, Hot Springs and Pine Bluff.
In her experience with volunteering, Despain found that it’s not that others don’t want to volunteer, it just may be that they don’t know where to start. She wanted to gather a group of students to set up those opportunities at ACHE.
“(We wanted to) all go out on the same day and support the mission of ACHE which is to improve the lives of others, especially the communities that we’re living in,” she said.
The Degen Foundation, which provides healthcare funds, through grants and special services to promote health and education, donated to the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education for needed supplies.
A main volunteer site the Fort Smith students participated at was Habitat for Humanity. The Degen Foundation helped to purchase gloves, long sleeves, goggles and other necessary clean up and building supplies. The crew was also able to make t-shirts promoting the event.
Devin Brown, a junior at ACHE, moved to Fort Smith from Virginia with previous volunteer experience at Habitat for Humanity. At first, he didn’t have an open mindset about how he could get involved in the Fort Smith and ACHE community.
“I’ve truly grown here,” he said. “I’ve learned so much here and the people here are just amazing. Fort Smith itself has been an amazing place and you never know who you’re going to meet here.”
Despain said she doesn’t feel like she’s accomplished anything outstanding. She just wanted to give others the opportunity to do the things she enjoys doing. Floyd praised her commitment to organizing the events of the week.
“We have a lot of great students and (Sydney is) just a prime example of what a great student is,” she said. “She not only has all the classroom stuff but all the extra stuff. She cares about it for sure. And that’s she she truly has a heart for, for serving the community and meeting people where they’re at.”
Despain noted that every student is able to give back to the community and as healthcare professionals, it’s part of their job.
“Being in these positions as future healthcare professionals and leaders is a immense privilege,” she said. “I think we often forget how much of a privilege that is and how much our community looks up to us as leaders. For us to have the opportunity to go back and do those things you wouldn’t see doctors or medical students doing… I think it speaks a lot to who we are as an institution. I feel very proud that I get to help set those things up and promote that reputation the school already has.”
This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Arkansas Colleges of Health Education Students Host Day of Service