Second-year dental students at the UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston participated in a local health drive on March 5.
UTHealthCares, a student-led volunteer organization, comprises students from UTHealth’s six schools and addresses the health concerns of Houston’s underserved populations through community engagement.
Collaborating with UT Physicians and commissioner Adrian Garcia of Harris County Precinct 2, UTHealthCares participated in a food distribution event at the Northeast Community Center.
Dental students Thanh Le, Anissa Rodriguez, and Diego Rivas joined volunteers to distribute more than 200 care packages, which included dental supplies, hand sanitizer, and pamphlets about COVID-19, health precautions, and vaccine registration information.
Classmates Dominique Angibeau and Pooja Krishnaswamy helped organize the packages and tend to other logistics in advance of the event.
On the day of the drive, cars lined up in the parking lot. Volunteers visited in a safe, socially distant manner to deliver the packages, explain their contents, and answer health-related questions.
Many visitors did not have access to or did not know how to access CDC guidelines or vaccine registration sites, including one man who learned that his at-risk, 80-year-old mother qualified for the vaccine. Others started the registration process immediately from their cars.
“It was great to give back to the community,” Rivas said. “A lot of older adults, who really need vaccines, didn’t know where to get them, and many didn’t know where to look on the internet. People were grateful to receive phone numbers they could call to get scheduled.”
While UTHealthCares played a small role during the event, the School of Dentistry said, the volunteers and organizers had a lasting impact with the care packages and information provided to the community.