When temperatures drop, we reach for the simple things: hats, gloves, scarves, socks and the like. When you’re homeless, however, the simple things can be far out of reach.
On Nov. 16, UC nursing students extended a helping hand by distributing much-needed winter items to Cincinnati’s homeless at the second annual "Winterize Yourself” event, a program developed in partnership with the college’s nursing student government and the local administration of a national organization called Health Care for the Homeless.
For the 2012 event students, faculty and staff collected nearly 2,000 cold weather accessories in a friendly competition between faculty/staff and students. As in 2011, the student donations far exceeded their competitors, but at the event, which this year was held at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen and ministry in Over-the-Rhine, everyone joined together to promote relevant health care education and assistance to the homeless.
Student representatives from the BSN, RN to BSN and MSN programs also assisted faculty with health care screenings such as blood pressure checks and administering flu vaccines.
"The students who participated in the event were thrilled, and touched by the response of those who attended,” says faculty coordinator Rebecca Lee, PhD, who also serves on the board of directors of Cincinnati Health Network (CHN), a private, nonprofit organization established in 1986 to coordinate local service and programs for medically underserved and vulnerable population groups throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Lee, and senior BSN nursing student Michael Winter, president of the college’s nursing tribunal, which is the undergraduate student governing body, oversaw the college’s 2011 participation and stepped up to take the lead again in 2012.
"I am incredibly proud of the selflessness and generosity that our students, faculty, and staff demonstrate each year and of the leadership that the tribunal executive board represents. Community service has always been at the forefront of my belief system and I am highly impressed with the impact students have stated this event had on them.”
After witnessing an elderly woman cry upon receiving a pair of socks, Kaitlin Caponi, who is studying to be a family nurse practitioner, was moved to think about homelessness in an entirely different context: "It hit me that a pack of socks costs like 10 dollars and I don’t even think twice about buying socks … but a pair of socks was all this woman wanted, and when she got them it was as if she hit the lottery.
"It was truly heartwarming,” says Caponi.
It’s a sentiment echoed by UC East BSN student Erica Rossignol, who knows American Sign Language and provided care to a woman who was deaf.
Rossignol says that the woman hadn’t been able to communicate with anyone in so long that she kept signing over and over again, "Thank you.”
Having delivered over 100 gift bags with the collected items, Lee says "the attendees and organizers were overwhelmed at the generosity of the students, faculty and staff.”