Street Medicine Oakland expands outreach to local high school

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A student organization OUWB recently held its third and final workshop of the year at Avondale High School.

Oakland Street Medicine organized the event to help students at Auburn Hills High School create homeless care packages.

OUWB’s street medicine program was launched in late 2019 and is the first program of its kind in Oakland County.

The program aims to help the homeless population of Pontiac and Royal Oak in multiple ways – from helping those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, to helping the vulnerable population manage their respective habits through one of the worst global pandemics in history.

Michael Marchiori, M2, member of Street Medicine Oakland, said working with Avondale is an extension of the organization’s services.

“It made sense for us to reach out to them,” Marchiori said.

“We look forward to making this an annual project and working with them on other projects.”

Three workshops were held with Avondale students. The first dealt with the organization and preparation of the material.

The second aimed to talk to high school students about their professional interests, homelessness, hobbies, etc. Members of Street Medicine Oakland also answered questions. The students also made tie-and-cut scarves to include in the care kits.

During the final event, the students packed care packages with various supplies.

Marchiori said Street Medicine Oakland hopes to increase community engagement for homelessness-related projects.

Care packages contain a variety of items for homeless people.

“(Street Medicine Oakland) is trying to expand the different efforts we do in addition to the outreach activities we do for patients,” Marchiori said.

“(We) are trying to collaborate and connect more with different community members and community groups, and one part of that is starting to collaborate with different levels of education.”

Lakshmi Vrittamani, M1, is another Street Medicine Oakland member who expressed similar sentiments.

“We really wanted a way to see how we can better engage our community and start the conversation about homelessness at a younger age,” Vrittamani said. “And we thought high school was a good place to start just starting the conversation to see if we could improve community involvement.”

Randall Hilleary, M1, member of Street Medicine Oakland, said he wanted to volunteer at this event because he wanted people to be excited about helping out in the community.

“It’s a really good time (for kids to understand) what they want to do,” Hilleary said. “And that’s kind of what inspired me to start getting into healthcare when I was in high school. I really wanted to see if I could do the same for some people here.

Meaghan Race, M1, another member of the group, spoke about the importance of helping high school students understand homelessness.

“It’s not something I had in high school…to understand homelessness, to understand the impact it has in my own community,” Race said. “Being able to partner with Avondale has been really beneficial for us as medical students to work with young people in the community, but also for them to better understand what is happening in their own community.

Bianca Lupo, a senior from Avondale High School, called the experience an eye-opener.

“I think it had a big impact when we try to find the items to donate and then we realize it’s the basic things like toothpaste and toothbrushes and the things they need every day,” said Lupo. “Like little things you wouldn’t even think of.”

Vivian Provo, a freshman at Avondale, said it was nice to have the opportunity to help people.

“I never talked about it in school, or asked the teachers to talk about it, or had a chance to talk about homelessness,” Provo said.

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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