April 1, 2015

Public Health students support local nonprofit

Over the past year, the Loma Linda University School of Public Health Student Association (SPHSA) has been supporting an Inland empire nonprofit, YouthHope. Among its contributions, SPHSA organized a fundraising social event and participated in a clothing drive with all proceeds going to YouthHope.

YouthHope's objectives are to "build confidence and promote self-sufficiency for homeless, runaway and underserved youth ages 14-24 by providing trust, hope, support and education."

On Feb. 12, the SPHSA raised over $1,000 at its annual Path(ology) of Love social event. Roughly 400 attendees were able to socialize; participate in games, face painting, food, speed dating, a date auction and live music; and contribute funds to a good cause.

The SPHSA also collaborated with the schools of Dentistry and Nursing to organize and host a Winter Quarter community event encouraging students and community members to donate new or slightly used clothing for youth. After three weeks, over 1,000 articles of clothing and shoes were donated.

"While I was sorting out the donations, it was evident that some students were thinking of the youth that would be receiving the donations and not just in cleaning up their closet," said Noemi Avalos, SPHSA community vice-president. "They added bracelets, perfumes or other appealing complementary items to go with the outfits they had donated. That made me almost want to cry."

Following the end of the clothing drive, SPHSA hosted a homeless youth forum. The program included a panel of experts in the field: Brenda Dowdy, homeless education program specialist with the office of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools; Dr. Daniel Handysides, an assistant professor with the School of Public Health; Dolores Dickson, a community health worker with the Family Assistance Program; and Heidi Mayer, executive director of YouthHope.

The panel's discussion focused on raising awareness about the scope of youth homelessness in San Bernardino, as well as its causes and possible ways to alleviate the problem.

On April 8, SPHSA, in collaboration with San Bernardino County and local nonprofit organizations, will participate in administering a survey to help identify homeless youth in San Bernardino County.

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