This is a list of organizations that I used to/currently volunteer for or help out in any way I can. :] They are run by amazing people that I’ve (for the most part) had the opportunity to work with or partake in in the past/present.
- Paul Hom Asian Clinic
This is a non-profit free clinic that provides interpretation and primary care services to a predominantly Cantonese-speaking, uninsured and under-privileged population. It is entirely staffed by volunteers (undergraduates, medical students, physicians), provides cancer screenings and other preventative health services, and also works in partnership with several pharmaceutical companies to provide free or very low-cost medications to low-income families. I had the pleasure of being able to volunteer there from 2008-2013, and this is really one of the major reasons as to why I decided that I really wanted to (a) go to medical school, and (b) go into [family] medicine. I really miss the patients there and would love to go back there someday as a volunteer physician.
I discovered this food truck in New Brunswick/Piscataway back in 2011 and it is easily one of my favorite eateries in the country/probably the world. Yep, you read that right. They use organic, locally-grown ingredients to make delicious, healthy foods, and for each meal that you buy from them, they donate one to the local soup kitchen (Elijah’s Promise). Their staff is amazing and super friendly, and I love food, especially when you happen to be supporting a great cause while you’re at it. This is the only place I would allow myself to eat at when I put myself on a 1.5-month grocery/going-out-to-eat ban.
- Family Refuge Center
The FRC advocates for victims of domestic violence/abuse and provides a safe place for them and their children to stay, helping them through the legalities, providing counseling, help finding jobs, support, etc. There are tutoring services for the kids and they’ve even partnered with the local humane society so that victims’ pets have a place to stay until the victims get back on their feet again. Our school frequently does fundraisers to help raise money to donate to them, and at one point, I did a treat swap to send home-baked goodies their way. :]
- Lewisburg Food Locker
(As far as I know, they don’t have a website.) This is a local food pantry in West Virginia that operates out of the Old Stone Church in Lewisburg. The program is run by one of my retired anatomy professors (+ his wife), and he partners with a number of different sources and connections to be able to provide food each month to about 100 families. Each month, community groups help to assemble the bags and we distribute them on the second Saturday of each month.
- Please Save A Cat
This is a no-kill cat shelter/sanctuary that houses ~84 cats in 4 different colonies. Despite my schedule, I spend anywhere from 2-12 hours here each week because I love it here and Linda is one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever known/has become one of my closest friends. She frequently goes to the shelter in town, as well as the ones in neighboring counties to pull cats that are approaching their “due dates.” Part of my unwillingness to leave Lewisburg just yet stems from the fact that I want to continue helping out here as long as possible. It’s run entirely on donations, although Linda frequently puts in her own money to keep it going, because providing food, shelter, litter, medications, etc. for so many cats takes an unbelievable amount of time and money. She also fosters pets for military personnel who get deployed.
*Disclaimer:* I currently live here, but have been banned from volunteering until my exam is over.
- Friends For Life, Inc
This is another no-kill shelter/animal rescue that’s also run entirely on donations. I actually started volunteering here first before finding out about the shelter that Linda runs, so now I try to split my time evenly between the two places. Donna takes care of at least 30-40 dogs there and there are a number of dogs and cats that are also being taken care of by foster families. They’re always in need of supplies/monetary donations, and I try to come by as often as my schedule allows me to in order to take the dogs on walks, groom/pet them, and give em’ some extra love and attention, since I’m sure you can imagine that taking care of so many dogs also takes a considerable amount of time/money/energy.
- Spring Reins of Hope
As far as I know, this is still the only equine therapy location on the east coast. They offer a course for medical students/health care providers on how to improve bedside manner and working on picking up nonverbal cues/body language that I had the chance to sit in on (for one of the field days) and I learned a great deal there. They also offer Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) for personal + professional growth/learning, as well as Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) for emotional growth, behavioral learning and overall healing.