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Community immersion projects during orientation are the perfect place to start thinking about service learning, but why stop there?

Service Learning Benefits All: Indianapolis Journey

IU School of Medicine student standing together in front of building they are repairing.

Community immersion projects during orientation are the perfect place to start considering service learning, but why stop there?

Indiana University School of Medicine has Indianapolis campus representatives and events chairs for the Service Learning Coalition who plan opportunities for medical students to serve the community.

Neal Mahajan, a second-year medical student who serves as SLC events co-chair with Kylee Darden, reaches out to organizations for potential partnerships. “Participating in service learning augments my educational experience by having a better understanding of the causes of public health issues that disproportionately affect disadvantaged groups,” he said. “The service-learning project at Flanner Farms last spring was a great example of how food deserts caused by underinvestment, discrimination, and community destruction concretely impact the health of our future patients.”

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Five IU med students pose in front of a Habitat ReStore sign.Habitat for Humanity is widely known for offering volunteer opportunities year-round and serving people worldwide. The organization works in more than 70 countries, building and repairing homes, cleaning thrift stores, and more.

For Fall Service Learning Day, Mahajan led the Habitat for Humanity ReStore project, while Darden worked with NeighborLink to help clean up and repair a home. The students working with ReStore assisted in assembling donated furniture for the retail store. Additionally, they helped reorganize the showroom by taking out old pieces and bringing in new ones.

Student volunteers learned from the workers about Habitat’s initiative to provide furniture and appliances for low-income families in the area. Despite being a small team of six people, the students significantly improved the selection and shopping experience at the ReStore.

NeighborLinkThree NeighborLink volunteers paint in the side of a building.

Since 2013, NeighborLink — which is funded through grants, partnerships, and donations — has received thousands of home repair requests from older adults and individuals with disabilities who own a home. It has completed 4,803 projects at no cost to the homeowner.

The organization allows solo or group volunteering. You can also elect to participate in its Handy Volunteer Program, which helps people learn valuable skills, such as basic hand tool use and safety, simple electrical, basic plumbing, foundational carpentry, and problem-solving confidence. It allows participants to complete home repair projects as often as they wish.

Interested in upcoming service learning opportunities? Look for messages in the campus GroupMe and the weekly bulletin to get involved. The Service Learning Coalition and other Student Interest Groups also frequently advertise chances to give back.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Mallory Meyer

Mallory Meyer is an editorial assistant in Medical Student Education. She is attending IUPUI to get her bachelor’s in English, specifically Professional & Public Writing. While this is her first writing job, she hopes to strengthen her skills and ultimately work for a publishing company as a book editor.