By Crystal Valenzuela
Today I was blessed with the opportunity to serve members of the community in Long Beach, California at the Samaritan House (Long Beach Rescue Mission). One of the primary reasons I chose to attend American University of Health Sciences was due to this particular annual event. AUHS, along with its staff and faculty provide their students with ample opportunities to go into the surrounding community and make a difference in the lives of individuals.
On March 30, 2018, I participated in the “Lamp Unto My Feet” event. As a team, students of the AUHS School of Nursing assembled and successfully orchestrated a pop-up health clinic designed to educate and raise health awareness among the homeless community of Long Beach. AUHS is a Christian Faith-based private university focused on making a difference in local and global communities. The Lamp Unto My Feet event is significant because it serves as a reminder that service to others should be the cornerstone leading to greater understanding of the self as well as a deeper understanding of humanity in its entirety. The Lord, in his all mighty glory, was humbled enough to sit at the feet of his neighbor in order to model for his people acts of kindness and humility.
Good Friday is a day of remembrance of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Also, washing of the feet signifies and reinforces the humility and understanding necessary to live the life Jesus wants individuals to lead. This act reminds individuals that no one is above service and kindness to others. According to biblical scriptures, Jesus stated “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them”. The act of washing our neighbor’s feet is reflective of the work Jesus conducted during his time on earth and before he died on the cross for the sins of the world.
The pop-up health clinic began with the serving of lunch and a prayer in the chapel by Pastor Johnson, who offered uplifting words to inspire positivity and thoughts of hope for patrons of the Long Beach Rescue Mission for the day. Immediately following an educational presentation given by senior AUHS nursing students regarding the importance of oral hygiene and its correlation with heart disease, patrons were escorted out toward the courtyard. In the courtyard, the process of filling out health assessment questionnaires began. Three to five nursing students greeted and checked blood pressure readings for the patrons of the event. Next, patrons proceeded toward the foot wash basins, also manned by sincere students willing to help, myself included. Clean socks were handed out, in addition to expert advice on medications from the up and coming pharmacy program faculty. Lastly, patrons were handed small backpacks containing hygiene products necessary for self-care.
Overall, my experience at the Lamp Unto My Feet event was a positive one. Of the handful of individuals, one woman, in particular who I was able to help stands out. The woman was middle aged and it was obvious that she had been weathered by the sun. She had a history of diabetes since giving birth to her first child. Together, we briefly discussed gestational diabetes and I queried about her knowledge of insulin administration, her bouts with peripheral neuropathy and the importance of wound care in diabetics. She had a small wound on the bottom of one of her toes, she said she is “keeping an eye on it” and that she appreciated all of the students help. I feel like I learned a lot about myself as well. By listening to some of the stories these people shared, I realized being homeless can happen to anyone at any time. One woman stated that she attended Berkeley at one point in her life and that she had a “little misstep” and that, she would be able to “make it right eventually”. These were people from all walks of life, young, old, African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, Native American, male and female. However, one thing they all had in common, other than attending the free event was that they were sincerely appreciative of the event. There were plenty of “thank you (s)” and “bless you(s)” going around. I appreciated the opportunity to make a difference in the Long Beach community it reminded me that there are plenty of people in this world who are willing to dedicate their valuable time in order to make a difference in the life of those in need.
Click below to watch a video summary of the event;
About American University of Health Sciences
AUHS is a Christian based, minority-serving university, which educates students for careers in the healthcare profession. AUHS emphasizes the values of faith in God, love of humankind, and belief that all people have a right to healthcare and deserve a good quality of life based on the wellness of body, mind, and spirit. The university celebrates diversity and reaches out to groups currently underrepresented in healthcare and research. AUHS provides the undergraduate and graduate curriculum, hands-on practical training and supportive environment required to create competent and compassionate healthcare professionals.
American University of Health Sciences is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.748.9001. For more information visit www.auhs.edu.