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Feet. We use them everyday, but they are often one of the most taken for granted and overlooked part...

Mongelli Award, Fall ’14 – Happy Feet Clinic

January 16th, 2015

Feet. We use them everyday, but they are often one of the most taken for granted and overlooked parts of the body. It’s a part of the body we don’t really talk about but rely on for so much. The average person will walk 115,000 miles in a lifetime and not give a second thought about their foot health. However, the average homeless person walks 35 miles a day and stands in lines for about four hours a day. That is much more daily wear and tear than the average person. Happy Feet Clinic provides the tools for proper foot health to underserved communities that are just as guilty of forgetting about their feet as the rest of us.

The UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows have selected Happy Feet Clinic as one of the winners of the Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement for Fall 2014. Foot health is a serious issue that is not often addressed, and Happy Feet Clinic’s dedication to serving the community in such a unique way have made the Fellows more than proud to offer this award to the organization.

Happy Feet Clinic was originally founded in 2008 as a part of the UCLA PRIME Medical School Program’s initiative to create a project or conduct research that addresses health disparities in one of the underserved populations in the Los Angeles community. One of the cohorts of the PRIME program decided to address the podiatric health of the greater Los Angeles community. The undergraduate students took over the graduate student initiative to form Happy Feet Clinic.

Just in the year 2014 alone, Happy Feet Clinic saw over 300 patients. They see a wide variety of foot problems ranging from athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, and more serious ailments. Happy Feet Clinic takes podiatrists and certified medical students with them to their bi-quarterly clinics to offer the free medical checkups that the community needs. Many of the people they see are unable to afford a check up, lack transportation, and may even be embarrassed to admit they have foot issues. Happy Feet Clinic solves all these issues by coming to them and providing all they may need in the friendliest of manners.

The quarterly foot clinics are all day events starting early in the morning, not to mention the weeks of preparation beforehand. Happy Feet Clinic members must bring their entire “clinic” to the service site. At the service site, they take a short medical history before cleaning and washing the client’s feet. The physicians and podiatrists, alongside the medical students, do their best to treat whatever ailments they can on the spot and refer the clients to the appropriate locations if needed. Happy Feet Clinic focuses on teaching clients how to prevent foot problems in the first place by providing the education necessary to have healthy feet. Most foot problems can be solved by easy preventative measures that many people overlook. Happy Feet Clinic provides a “goody bag” with supplies to help clientele maintain proper foot health.

Happy Feet Clinic is worthy of this award because they are always looking to innovate. They are interested in expanding their club to other schools and are currently mentoring the soon to be established Pepperdine chapter. They are looking to create more thorough training sessions for their members because dealing with the homeless population is a new experience for most new recruits. Happy Feet Clinic is always looking to collaborate with other clubs and is in the works of collaborating with UCLA’s Mobile Clinic. In the past, they have done shoe drives and hope to go beyond that in their future collaborations.

The UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows are honored to recognize Happy Feet Clinic as one of the recipients of the Fall 2014 Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement. If you are interested in learning more or getting involved with Happy Feet Clinic, please visit their website, or email them at

About the Author

Written by the UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows

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