On Saturday, Oct. 10, about 60 students, faculty, and staff from the University of Lynchburg’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program participated in the “Global PT Day of Service,” a day when physical therapists from all over the world volunteer in their communities.
It was the first time the program’s Global Outreach Service Club — GOServe for short — has participated in the event. “We started as a club that helped to organize and fundraise for international service trips to Guatemala,” Audrey Ferguson ’22 DPT, GOServe’s co-chair, said.
“Over the past few years, we have been trying to shift the focus from just international missions to include local service initiatives with local community partners. We wanted to do this so PT students who were not able to participate in international service trips could still serve others and engage on a local level with the Lynchburg community.”
One group cleaned wheelchairs and other assistive devices that had been donated to Children’s Assistive Technology Service, a Union Hall, Virginia-based group that provides adaptive equipment to children at no charge.
Lynchburg DPT has worked with CATS in the past, making elaborate Halloween costumes for kids who use wheelchairs to get around.
Another group worked at Food for Thought, a supplemental feeding program that operates out of Park View Community Mission in Lynchburg. The program provides food-insecure students with nutritious meals as they leave school on Friday afternoons.
Some people went to Gleaning for the World in nearby Concord, where they made reusable feminine hygiene products that will be sent to women overseas. Others served at World Help in Forest, Virginia, packing boxes of clothes to be sent to Guatemala, Honduras, and other countries.
The group also sold PT Day of Service T-shirts with proceeds going to support CATS.
“It was great to be involved … to provide support to our local community partners and show that we, members and future members of the PT profession, care about both the work we do and the people and communities we serve,” Marie Quinn ’22 DPT, GOServe secretary, said. “We had a great DPT student turnout to make PT Day of Service a success.”
Ferguson agreed. “We never imagined we would have as much involvement … and we are so thankful to our students, faculty, staff, and the local clinicians that came out and participated,” Ferguson said. “All of the feedback we have received so far has been very positive.
“We hope that with each year this event will continue to grow and enable our program to build lasting relationships with these community partners and that we’ll partner with even more in the future.”
GOServe’s volunteer opportunities were coordinated through the University of Lynchburg’s Center for Community Engagement, which helps members of the campus community plan, coordinate, and participate in service projects.
“We just want to highlight the work of all of our amazing community partners and say thank you so much to each of them for allowing us to come out and learn more about their amazing organizations and serve alongside them,” Ferguson said.
“We would also like to thank the Center for Community Engagement for all of their help coordinating this event and helping it to run as smoothly as it did. We could not have done this without all of these partners and can’t wait to partner with each of them in the future.”