Samford University student William Gafford speaks about promoting health education with students and teachers at Unless U, a Vestavia-based nonprofit along with his partner, Newton Tinsley.
About 50 people turned out on a rainy evening for the Alabama Schweitzer Fellowship’s first Fellows Fest at Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest, raising more than $1,300 for community service projects led by the Schweitzer Fellows.
The Shark Tank-style event saw the fellows, all of whom are full-time graduate students who have committed to a 200-hour long service project that meets an unmet health need for an at-risk population, pitch their projects to the audience. Following the pitches, audience members voted for their favorite projects, which will receive money from the event to support their project.
“Our fellows are amazing. They work alongside community-based organizations on projects designed to solve difficult public health challenges, all while studying in demanding academic fields, such as counseling, medicine, dentistry and more,” said Alabama Schweitzer Program Director Kristin Boggs.
Top vote getters included UAB School of Nursing student Katherine Cassidy, whose project provides online support for parents of children with muscular dystrophy, and UAB School of Public Health student Catherine Jones who has created an art therapy program for residents of a rehabilitation and retirement facility. Other popular projects included one for finding ways to connect dentists with the more than 40,000 children in Birmingham who have never seen a dentist, and another that is using gardening as a way to teach children in Macon County about nutrition and healthy eating.
Fellows Fest attendees enjoyed drinks and desserts provided by Zoe’s Kitchen of Vestavia, which was a sponsor of the event. More information about the Alabama Fellows’ projects can be found online at schweitzerfellowship.org/chapters/alabama.
The current class of Schweitzer Fellows includes 16 graduate students from Samford University, Tuskegee University, University of Montevallo and the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and the Collat School of Business at UAB.