Established by UCLA students in 1996, UMMA Volunteer Project (UVP) is a UCLA student organization that provides free health clinic services to underserved populations in South Los Angeles. Often lacking proper health insurance and facing high unemployment rates, families of this community require access to resources that can prevent and address serious health issues. By focusing on health services and educational outreach, the organization hopes to create a long-lasting impact throughout their community.
UVP recently started serving the students and families of John C. Fremont High School. Measured by the limited number of resources available and the high number of free lunches offered to attending students, Fremont High School is one of the most impoverished high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. To support the community, UMMA volunteers provide health services and education to the underserved students, families, and and community members who do not have access to medical care and resources.
UVP is committed to their mission of education-centered service and hopes to improve upon their current active projects by enhancing student engagement while also inspiring the children they visit. Tyler Dowd, UVP’s Internal Vice President, states, “It is our hope that through these activities we will not only inform the youth of South LA of preventative health measures, but also inspire them to consider futures in the awesome field of medicine.”
Volunteering with UVP is a positive experience that benefits the service recipients as well as the volunteers. At project sites, students are exposed to stories, communities, and people who offer perspectives and ideas they may not be familiar with. Additionally, UCLA students gain experiences that better their understanding of the healthcare industry and the importance of giving back to the local community.
“I have taught energetic elementary school students about nutrition and how the immune system works, shared the signs of strokes with patients and heard their personal stories, and apologetically asked a kind health fair attendee if I could prick her finger to get a proper glucose measurement,” explained UVP’s External Vice President, Fariha Hameed. She added, “I have fallen in love with the services that we do.”
UVP hopes to implement a number of new initiatives to address national issues faced by their very own community. They are seeking to expand their current projects next year by collaborating with other health-oriented organizations at UCLA, performing cholesterol readings at health fairs, and include interactive activities like animal dissections to effectively educate the community.
The UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows are proud to award UVP the Spring 2017 Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement for the impactful work the group has done in recent years to revitalize health education and outreach in the Los Angeles community. To get involved with the organization, email firstname.lastname@example.org.