BCM’s Schweitzer Fellows reach out to homeless community

May 1, 2011

Revathi Jyothindran (left) and Agnes Hernandez-Grande
Revathi Jyothindran (left) and Agnes Hernandez-Grande

Through their work with the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, four BCM students are working to improve the health of people who are medically underserved. Now the four Schweitzer fellows – third-year medical students Joshua Liao and Revathi Jyothindran and fourth-year students Stina Salazar and Agnes Hernandez-Grande – are reaching out to the community in another way. They committed their annual Day of Service on March 13 to Turning Point, a grassroots organization that serves Houston’s homeless population.

The students worked on site at Turning Point on various projects, including in the garden and on reshaping and reinforcing one of the building’s foundation, which had suffered water damage.

BCM Schweitzer Fellows Joshua Liao, center, and Stina Salazar, right, help out a community volunteer at the Turning Point organization.
BCM Schweitzer Fellows Joshua Liao, center, and Stina Salazar, right, help out a community volunteer at the Turning Point organization.

Turning Point was started almost three decades ago by Isha Salas-Desselle, who bought an old motel and converted it into housing for homeless seeking temporary shelter. Turning Point has expanded and now also offers a community garden that provides food for the shelter as well as a new building for conferences and other large meetings.

Launched in 1992, the U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program includes 13 program sites. Its goal is to influence the professional development of students in health-related fields in ways that strengthen their commitment to and skills in public service and to alter the culture of professional schools so they more effectively address needs of surrounding disadvantaged communities.

The fellows partner with community-based organizations to identify an unmet health need, design a yearlong service project with a demonstrable impact on that need, and bring that project from idea to implementation and impact – all on top of their usual graduate school responsibilities. More information about the 2010-2011 Schweitzer Fellows and their projects.