Student nurses to the rescue
by Jennifer Byrd –
The San Francisco Salvation Army Meals that Heal (MTH) program brings hot meals daily to 120 individuals living in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. To reach so many people, the Meals that Heal staff relies heavily on a volunteer force. Two nurses from the University of California, San Francisco, were recently part of the crew.
“They were absolutely wonderful,” said Eleanor Katopes, MTH program director. “They were enthusiastic and brought a freshness and newness to our clients.”
In addition to delivering meals, the student nurses were able to visit with their clients in order to see how they were doing both emotionally and physically. They also helped the program staff interview new clients and evaluate whether they met the criteria to be put into the program.
“Overall, Meals that Heal allowed me to work with diverse clients with different needs,” said student nurse Theresa Sulit. “I felt committed to the program because it does such great things for people. The Salvation Army not only provides meals for clients, but also provides them love and care.”
Volunteering with the program also taught the students about the Tenderloin neighborhood. “Delivering meals and actually getting into the community has given me a true understanding of social justice in San Francisco,” said student nurse Jen Vaux.
Vaux was so touched by the program that she enlisted some of her friends to volunteer. “Most people think the Tenderloin is dirty and full of drug addicts, people who have no hope and whose lives are wasted,” Vaux said. “But there are people who are very much alive, trying to seek out an existence for themselves. All is not lost—these are real people with real hopes and dreams.”