Georgia State’s Bydine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professionals is helping the Safe House Outreach center tackle homelessness by providing student help. The Safe House is a non-profit organization that provides resources, care, and food to the homeless in Atlanta.
Kenya Kirkendoll, the undergraduate coordinator for community health over the university’s nursing problems oversees the community health section, which gives students the opportunity to work with the homeless in Atlanta.
“Students start by being placed in community based agencies, and the school then targets vulnerable populations, like the homeless in Atlanta,” Kirkendoll said. “Since we started the program, there has been more awareness amongst our homeless clients as it pertains to their personal hygiene.”
Georgia State has been providing Safe House with student volunteers from the nursing program since the fall of 2009, providing the organization with different services and equipment.
“At Safe House our focus is individuals who are homeless and we provide footcare, blood pressure checks, health education, and referrals,” said Kirkendoll.
Services which, according to Santanna Terry, office manager and volunteer coordinator are invaluable for the clients of the organization.
“On one occasion we had a man check his blood pressure and it was high, and so he was sent to the hospital where he ended up having a stroke, and so Georgia State’s student nurses perhaps saved a life by just being here and educating,” said Terry.
The university has also given back in donations.
Joe McCutchem, a pastor at Safe House, said, “we receive donations throughout the year, and these donations are stored in our clothing closet.”
Within this clothing closet are items from Georgia State. “Over time students develop relationships with the clients. In that building of relationships, students have taken it upon themselves to do different types of drives, “ said Kirkendoll.
It’s within these drives that students collect coats, pants, scarves, and hats for the homeless, as well as shoes, both worn and new.
Georgia State in recent years, has given $500 to the homeless organization, and according to McCutchem, intends on continuing its assistance through the nursing program.
He said the relationship between the university and Safe House is vital, saying “We’d have to close down if it wasn’t for Georgia State”.