By Elaine Evans, JABSOM Development Office
The regular Thursday evening meeting of the Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunset Chapter on November 21 was anything but ordinary. Instead of meeting as usual at the Waikiki Yacht Club, nearly thirty members gathered at JABSOM instead that evening. They toured the Medical Education Building and the HOME Project Mobile Health Clinic, but the main reason for their visit was to present the school with a very generous check to underwrite HOME (Homeless Outreach and Medical Education) Project vaccinations for uninsured children and adults who are homeless.
Support for a vaccination project like the one at JABSOM is a natural for Rotarians who began their fight against polio in 1979 with a project to immunize six million children in the Philippines. Thanks, in large measure, to their advocacy and fundraising, the world is 99% polio free today.
Hearing about the need for immunizations right here at home, the Sunset Chapter initiated the grant to the HOME Project and convinced the Metro, Honolulu Sunrise, Pau Hana and Waianae Coast chapters and the Hawaii Rotary District office to partner with them in providing a year’s worth of vaccinations to those on Oahu who are homeless.
In addition to their very generous financial gift, Rotarians are giving the HOME Project another equally valuable gift — the gift of time. Scores of them have volunteered to provide food and to cook and clean up at events like the Wai`anae and Kaka`ako Halloween Fairs for homeless children, the annual Christmas party and the Bake Sale fundraising event. Others will be helping patients find and coordinate resources. Their help is a tremendous blessing for our staff and medical students who are trying to brighten lives in addition to providing physical examinations and vaccinations.
We also have the Sunset Chapter to thank for their help retrofitting the HOME Project’s used van. Funds they provided last summer are making it possible to remove unneeded cabinets, convert the shower to shelving, transform the sleeping area into an exam table area and to wrap the van’s exterior so that we may publicly acknowledge all the Mobile Health Clinic sponsors.
And there is yet one more gift from our Rotary friends. Their enthusiasm and good humor have given everyone who works on the HOME Project renewed energy for the task of caring for the homeless. This is one of the best gifts of all and one that is truly immeasurable.
Our photograph shows Dean Jerris Hedges and Dr. Jill Omori (HOME Project founder), receiving the Rotary Sunset Chapter gift.