Medical students volunteer at Tahlequah Area Habitat for Humanity
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Walking through the newly constructed home, the smell of fresh paint permeated the structure as almost a dozen OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine students wearing masks and armed with rollers and brushes worked throughout the house.
Members of the Student Osteopathic Rural Medicine Club (StORM) and American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) from the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine Tulsa and Cherokee Nation campuses volunteered their time on March 5 to help with the construction of a Tahlequah Area Habitat for Humanity home.
Six months earlier, some of the same students were at that location clearing the lot and building a shed on the property.
“It was just the slab and some yard debris,” said Shelby Cummings, a first-year student at OSUCOM at the Cherokee Nation. “We were all shocked the construction got done so quickly.”
Linda Cheatham, executive director of the Tahlequah Area Habitat for Humanity, said the nonprofit utilizes volunteer labor to help construct homes with a hired skilled construction supervisor on site in order to reduce the housing cost for the homeowner.
“Volunteers are the heartbeat of Habitat for Humanity. We are so pleased to have the partnership with the medical students,” Cheatham said. “New partnerships such as this give students a chance to work with the homeowner on site and build relationships with volunteers in the community.”
Cummings, who is the Tahlequah campus representative in StORM, said students in the club want to help people who live in rural Oklahoma, even if it’s not through health care.
“We can get trapped in the bubble of we can only do things related to medicine because we’re medical students,” she said.
"It’s nice to get out of your med student brain and do something that has nothing to do with medicine."
Hunter Myers is a second-year student at the Tulsa campus and also an officer in StORM and Student Government Association. He said it’s good for students to step away from their classes and books and do something for someone else.
“I think it’s healthy, it’s part of wellness. Getting involved in the community, coming out and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity is important,” Myers said. “The heart of the students is just as important as their medical skills.”
Cheatham said the more volunteers they have, the quicker they can finish a home and begin on a new one.
“With every Habitat house we build, more volunteers are needed,” she said. “We look forward to working with the medical students each year with new families that are selected for Habitat houses.”
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