GSDM students give back to local community
While volunteering in-person is not currently an option, students at the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) have still found creative ways to give back to the local community.
From October 2020 to February 2021, over 40 students took part in “virtual volunteering” at several Boston-area organizations, doing everything from donating desserts to crocheting teddy bears to helping to put together hygiene kits.
Many students volunteered on their own or in small groups, while others volunteered through their student organizations.
Five members of the BU Chapter of the Student National Dental Association (SNDA)— Taylor Bradshaw DMD 22, Charlee Goodman DMD 22, Amber Cox DMD 22, Manush Shah DMD 23, and Grace Hsieh DMD 24— participated in a day of service for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by collecting goods for the Dorchester Community Fridge, which provides free food and non-food household essentials.
According to Amber Cox DMD 22, who serves as the SNDA Community Service Chair,these community fridges were started as an initiative to help with food insecurity.
“SNDA wanted to give back to the community for MLK day—we thought that this would be a great opportunity get involved and practice something MLK preached,” said Cox. “It was an enlightening experience: As we were dropping off the goods that were collected we were able to see some members of the community taking some of the goods….this displayed the community fridge’s motto of ‘take what you need and leave what you can.’ “
Pre-pandemic, members of the BU Association of Women Dentists (BUAWD) often volunteered at Rosie’s Place, a women’s shelter in the South End, on Fridays, providing free oral health screenings and oral health education. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, they have been unable to volunteer in-person. Hoping to still help out, they worked with GSDM Student Affairs to donate 144 toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste to the shelter. Kathy Lituri, clinical assistant professor of Health Policy & Health Services Research, and center faculty member of Global & Population Health, helped the students deliver the toothbrushes and toothpaste to Rosie’s Place.
“Oftentimes people may not have the resources to purchase these things that a lot of us use every single day, so the least we could do was to provide that for them—especially in this time where they’re not necessarily able to receive oral healthcare,” said Andrea Fernandez DMD 21, president of BUAWD.
In February, the Hispanic Student Dental Association (HSDA) put together 200 hygiene kits to provide to the guests at Rosie’s Place. Each kit includes feminine products, soap, lotion, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
“We decided to put together funds from previous fundraisers to be able to buy more supplies for the hygiene kits,” said Karen Chileuitt DMD 22 and president of HSDA. “We also asked for donations from our members. We have raised a total of $288 from member donations and faculty members has matched $100 of that, totaling $388 in donations.”