Amid the demands of the opening days of classes at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM), students set aside their textbooks and lab equipment to clean, perform yardwork and even help build a house during the school’s Day of Service.
Hosted in partnership with the United Way of the Greenbrier Valley, the Day of Service is an annual event in which first- and second-year students at West Virginia’s largest medical school come together to aid community organizations by providing physical labor. This year’s event took place July 30, with 204 WVSOM students, nine faculty members and two graduate teaching assistants volunteering at 17 sites throughout Greenbrier County.
Caroline Kayes, a second-year WVSOM student who tracks students’ volunteer hours as the Student Government Association’s T.O.U.C.H. (Translating Osteopathic Understanding Into Community Health) coordinator for the 2022-23 academic year, said the Day of Service is a chance for the school to give back to organizations that offer important services to Greenbrier County.
“As future physicians, it’s important for us to focus not only on the health of our patients, but on the well-being of the community. Volunteering with local organizations gives us an opportunity to engage with community members and give back to the place that has given us so much,” Kayes said. “The community is always supportive of WVSOM and its students, and participating in this is a way for us to show our gratitude. We had a great turnout, and everyone seemed to have a fun time with their organization.”
At the grounds of the State Fair of West Virginia, students cleaned bleachers, painted fences and raked leaves. Volunteers helped with weeding at Montwell Commons, sorted books at Greenbrier County Public Library and assisted with beautification efforts at local trails.
Participants also walked dogs at the Greenbrier Humane Society, washed cars at Gateway Industries, a nonprofit that provides vocational services to individuals with physical, cognitive and psychiatric disabilities, and helped install floor joists in a house being built by Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity, among many other tasks.
Belinda Evans, WVSOM’s director of student life, said she was pleased to see such a large number of volunteers at this year’s event.
“I’m proud of the level of community engagement WVSOM provides through programs like the Day of Service,” Evans said. “It’s inspiring to know that our students are committed to helping others and are invested in improving the area they live in. That dedication will serve them well in their careers as physicians.”
Stephanie Moore, executive director of Family Refuge Center, where students painted the interior of a shelter used by victims of domestic violence, thanked the students for their work.
“We’re grateful for the volunteers from WVSOM. When they come to our facility, they are always enthusiastic about helping. This year, we were able to repaint one room in the shelter to prepare for a new interior setup,” Moore said. “In March, we hosted an Adopt-a-Room campaign that allowed individuals and organizations to purchase items to furnish each room in the shelter. With the assistance of WVSOM students, we are one step closer to creating a serene atmosphere for our survivors.”
The full list of organizations and locations that benefited from the 2022 Day of Service were: Alderson Hospitality House, in Alderson; the State Fair of West Virginia, in Fairlea; Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity and Frankford Elementary School, in Frankford; Davis Stuart, the Family Refuge Center, Greenbrier County Public Library, Greenbrier Humane Society, Hollowell Park, Lewisburg Baptist Church, Montwell Commons and Peyton Hospice House, in Lewisburg; Eastern Greenbrier Middle School, Gateway Industries and West Virginia Helping Hands in Ronceverte; and Greenbrier River Trail and Greenbrier State Forest.
In all, WVSOM students provide more than 6,000 hours of community service in a typical academic year.