John 13:13-15 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
15 nursing students from American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) volunteered to wash the feet of homeless individuals at the Second Samoan Church in Long Beach, California from 12- 2 pm on Thursday, April 13, 2017. This annual community outreach event was called “Lamp Unto My Feet” and observed how Jesus washed the feet of His Disciples in the Last Supper. About 60 attendees were given a free health screening, lunch, $5 donation, foot cleaning, and a pair of new socks. Students arrived at the church’s parking lot as early as 10 in the morning to help pitch the tents, set up the chairs, arrange a snack table, lay down fresh towels, and fill plastic tubs with soap and water.
AUHS nursing student Ryan Albano from Cohort 13 patiently waited outside the front door of the church with a pen and clipboard in hand, inviting churchgoers to the event.
“You have to understand that there are people in this world who are not fortunate enough to have good health. Since we, (the students), have good health, we need to use it to do something meaningful for the community,” Albano said, “Lamp Unto My Feet shows the (homeless) community that people still care about them.”
Albano helped sign in attendees such as Melvin Carr, a decorated veteran who was a machine gunner for the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War. Carr suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and had been in and out of homelessness throughout his life. He could not afford to rent an apartment and would often find shelter in hotels. Carr had recently become homeless about 2 weeks prior.
“Now you (the students) are all lucky that I took a shower yesterday and put on some clean socks and shoes,” Carr said, grinning, “A little bit of humor doesn’t hurt but the main reason why I came to Lamp Unto My Feet is because I’m homeless right now.”
Carr was going through a difficult time in his life and needed every bit of help that he could get. The church had always supported Carr during his time of need.
“You can talk to the Pastor and he can help refer you somewhere. He prays for me and it helps,” Carr said, “God has always been there for me. When I went to Vietnam, He helped bring me back home alive. I’m still breathing and even though I need a cane, I’m still walking.”
In the morning, hours before the event officially began, students had the opportunity to meet with dozens of homeless people inside the Second Samoan Church. AUHS nursing students took surveys on the participants’ physical and mental health conditions as well as their access to healthcare services and medicine. Students then provided attendees with essential healthcare information and resources. They even informed participants of a variety of clinics and health care programs available in the local area.
“This morning, the students asked the homeless some questions about their health. They were all very simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions,” said AUHS nursing student Inell Adams from Cohort 19, “I’ve learned that a lot of people are homeless for various reasons. They all had a story to tell.”
Adams remembered speaking to a 39-year-old woman who was “borderline homeless.”
“Her boyfriend was under the influence of illegal drugs and struck her on the side of the head. There was brain damage and ever since then, she hasn’t been right,” Adams said.
Adams hoped that the information she gathered from the survey will help AUHS and the Second Samoan Church better understand the needs of the homeless community in Long Beach. She also hoped that the health care information she had provided to participants would encourage them to seek the medical attention they needed.
After the survey, attendees were invited to the Second Samoan Church’s parking lot for AUHS’ Lamp Unto My Feet. Dozens of homeless individuals lined-up in the Second Samoan Church’s parking lot for the event. Pastor Gregory Johnson, the Co-founder of AUHS, attended the event to wash the first person’s feet and gave $5 to each guest. Dr. Kim Dang (Hon.), the Founder of AUHS, was also present at the event. She wore a black apron over her dress and helped AUHS students wash the feet of homeless individuals.
73-year-old Robert Lee was “looking in the dumpsters” behind the church when he saw the AUHS students preparing for the event in the parking lot. After seeing the students hard at work, Lee decided to attend.
“I think Lamp Unto My Feet is so beautiful. The students that came here today are so great,” Lee said, “This event reminds me of how Mary Magdalene washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair.”
Lee suffered from gout and he was touched that the AUHS students were willing to wash his feet.
“I have gout on both toes. I used to love tuna, it was my favorite food. But if I eat seafood, I wouldn’t be able to walk. The pain makes me feel like a puppet on a string,” Lee said, “I want you to know from the deepest part of my old heart that I really appreciate the great work AUHS did today.”
AUHS is a private, for-profit, minority owned, minority serving, Christian-based university whose mission is to educate and equip students with life careers and to produce quality health care professionals for the community, the nation, and the world. It is a university where appreciation of life and one’s spiritual reason for existence can be nurtured. AUHS offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) and a Master of Science in Clinical Research (MSCR). To request more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (562) 988-2278. For the latest news, pictures and videos of American University of Health Sciences’ events, like us on Facebook @auhs.edu and follow us on Twitter @AUHS_Campus and Instagram @auhsedu.