They prepped, scraped, and painted four neighborhood homes near Marian University in what College of Osteopathic Medicine students believe is their important responsibility.
“Helping others is one of the important things about being in your community, especially since being a part of Marian University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine means serving under-served communities,” explained first-year MU-COM student Sierra Street ’27. “I think it’s super important to serve, and it’s one of the things my classmates are all committed to since we live in this neighborhood, too.”
Street ’27 was one of 165 MU-COM first-year students and faculty who, in the second-year partnership with NeighborLink, a home repair organization, focused on serving low-income homeowners over age 62 with no-cost home repairs. While Marian’s College of Osteopathic Medicine celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year, NeighborLink Indianapolis recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, serving 1,400 homeowners with more than 4,200 repairs.
“We want these students to understand the community they are studying in and will eventually serve,” explained Holly Kerstner, MU-COM’s director of academic support. “We want to make sure our students see youth, middle-aged, and elderly residents in under-served neighborhoods so they can understand their healthcare needs while realizing not everyone has the same access to food, healthcare, and technology. Last year, students renovated homes in the Haughville neighborhoods, with this year’s focus on four homes in the near northwest area.
“It really is a match made in heaven,” said Lisa Cole, NeighborLink’s community and partner engagement director. “We’re trying to help people age safely in their own homes, and as we look ahead to these future physicians, their contribution is a huge factor.”
Cade Lansdell ‘27, who is studying to be a surgeon, agreed. “It’s really important for us to see the different socio-economic factors of the community we’re a part of, and give back to the community that’s so close to us at Marian.” Lansdell and fellow students made that connection with neighbors like 72-year-old Mattie Boyce. “It means a lot for the help because at my age, I’m not able to help myself as much as before, so I really appreciate this,” Boyce added.
“The nice thing about osteopathic medicine is that it aligns with our Franciscan sponsorship values. It treats the whole person, the dignity of the individual, in a holistic approach to our care,” explained Kerstner. “This is a great way for our students to start learning that taking care of our patients is not just in the exam room, it’s more where they live, the resources they have, and the access to medical care.”
“For Marian University to expose these students in their educational process, their contributions will be hard-wired into their thinking that if you don’t have access to healthy food, or a safe affordable home to stay in, it’s difficult to live comfortably if you’re also having medical issues going on.” Cole said. The neighbors helped couldn’t agree more. “I’m just very thankful,” Boyce said. “Getting the much-needed help so I can stay in the home I’ve lived for more than 14 years is very important.”