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March 2009 Issue

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Student-Run Health Group Gets Big Boost

By Angela Koenig
Published March 2009

The lifeline of most all-student volunteer organizations is cash flow; which often means bake sales, car washes and magazine drives. And naturally, time spent fundraising takes time away from volunteering.

Therefore, leaders of the student-run Urban Health Project (UHP) are grateful for a $20,000 grant from the Johnson Family Foundation.

The foundation supports community programs to improve the education, health or general welfare of the citizens in those communities.

UHP is a student-run summer program whereby students enter ing their second year of medical school gain experience in a social service atmosphere and learn valuable lessons working with patient populations who are medically underserved.

Currently 21 local nonprofit organizations, including Crossroad Health Center, Tender Mercies and Lighthouse Youth Crisis Center, gain free assistance from medical student interns.

In exchange for their service, students have the opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge in a social service or clinical agency. Students also receive a small stipend for expenses.

The organization was founded in 1986 and currently operates on a budget of about $85,000 annually, says Jessica Sisto, co-director for 2008–09.

The funds come from private foundations, outreach programs and student-run fundraisers. Co-director Lauren Simendinger applied for the grant to help expand the number of internships through UHP, increase the compensation for internships and move toward the beginnings of an endowment.

“Our hope is that UHP will not only make a significant contribution to the local community each summer, but will also provide medical students with a formative experience,” says Simendinger.

Sisto adds: “We’d like to see that UHP has financial stability, so that students do not have to keep fundraising all of the time.”

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