“What’s the happiest moment of your life?”
“When I became a grandmother. I’m trying to give the best part of me to him. I’m trying to teach him the important lessons – manners, respect, and how to be smart in this world…I leave everything to God, because now I’m a grandma!” – Jasmine
“What’s you favorite thing to do?” “My favorite thing to do is swim and play with my friend outside in my house, like tag and hide-and-seek” -Jahlani, 8 years old, 2nd grade
Shekeila and her boyfriend have been visiting the Outreach Van since early November. Shekeila had a emergency hospital visit the same week that her boyfriend was scheduled to begin a new job. He ultimately lost that job, and they became unable to pay rent. The two have been living on the streets and partly staying with a friend since. Shekeila has a five-year-old daughter who is in custody with her mother. Thankfully, the couple receives some care and support from Shekeila’s boyfriend’s family. The two are hoping to find a job soon. In the meantime, they are thankful for the donations from OVP.
“I have a son. He is one year old, and his name is Bryan. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Do you want to see pictures of him? Here he is in the park, riding the slide. He looks so happy. Here he is again in my wife’s backyard. Isn’t he handsome? It makes me happy to see him that happy. He is my baby. I love my baby.
Having a son makes me want to become a better person. I want my son to grow up and have everything. I do not get to see him as much as I want to, and I miss him when I do not see him. The last time I saw him was two weeks ago in the park. I hope to see him again before the next month. I love my baby.”
“My story is that when I was little I had an accident that made me a little special. It was both good and bad. I was climbing up a tree and I fell. I hit my head. Can you feel this bump right here? It is from that fall and after that I became a little special. I started not remembering things as well, my memory became a little blurry. And that made me a bit sad. But after that time, I also became “mama’s boy”, she would take special care of me and let me do things that maybe my brother couldn’t do. And that was a good thing hahaha”.
“I was close to my mom and my dad. My birthday is June 6th, he was June 7th so I was born close to his birthday. When I talked to him he went back to Sicily because he couldn’t deal with the fact my mom–they were best friends, they had been married 51 years–he went back to Sicily and he facetimed me over there–it’s like a day ahead so it was his birthday but it was my birthday here, and we sang happy birthdaY to each other and he died on the 9th..um I don’t have closure on that, so it’s really painful. I’m just trying to live, trying to move forward.”
The clothing committee organizes drives throughout the year to collect clothing to be distributed on the weekly van trips. Winter clothing is especially in demand as many people often ask for jackets and sweaters to keep warm. The van groups try to have enough to donate at least one piece of clothing to each person who asks for it on their trip. Bins are set up in various locations including the medical school and the MSR for people to easily donate any winter gear they no longer need.
Dr. Gaeta along with David Thomas, the manager at the Woods Mullen shelter, led tours of local homeless shelters for OVP members. The group split in two since the shelters were not large enough to accommodate everyone at once. Dr. Gaeta showed half of the members the facilities at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Project (BHCHP) including dental care clinics, in-patient floors, and lounge areas for the clients. Overall, students were impressed by the large scale operations and the relatively new facilities made available for the homeless patients. Meanwhile, David Thomas led the other half of the group around the corner of Mass Ave and Albany Street to the Woods Mullen homeless shelter for women. Students were able to see that the facilities were much more humble and that women there did not have much space to themselves. Staff at the shelter worked hard to keep the building clean and to provide as much care and counseling for their clients. Touring the two buildings right next to BUSM allowed students to appreciate and understand the circumstances that the homeless are in and what resources are available to them.
In response to the recent opioid epidemic, OVP members, along with other members of the BUSM community partook in an overdose training program. Naloxone, or Narcan, is increasingly being prescribed to reverse opioid overdoses and BU students got a first hand training of how to administer the drug. The event was sponsored by BUSM, Harvard Medical School and the Boston Public Health Commission.
The event was kicked off with an introduction to the opioid epidemic by Dr. Alexander Walley, a physician from BMC. If you’re interested to learn more about analog one, visit www.prescribetoprevent.org.