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Lamp Unto My Feet – March 2018, a Testimonial by AUHS Student Crystal Valenzuela

Today, I was blessed with the opportunity to serve members of the community in Long Beach at the Samaritan House (Long Beach Rescue Mission). One of the primary reasons I chose to attend American University of Health Sciences was due to this particular annual event. AUHS, along with its staff and faculty, provide their students with ample opportunities to reach out towards the surrounding community and make a difference in the lives of individuals.

On March 30, 2018, I participated in the “Lamp Unto My Feet” event. As a team, AUHS nursing students assembled and successfully orchestrated a pop-up health clinic designed to educate and raise health awareness among the homeless community of Long Beach. The event is significant because it serves as a reminder that service to others should be the cornerstone leading to greater understanding of the self as well as a deeper understanding of humanity in its entirety. The Lord, in His almighty glory, was humbled enough to sit at the feet of His neighbor in order to model for His people acts of kindness and humility.

Good Friday is a day of remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Also, washing of the feet signifies and reinforces the humility and understanding that is necessary to live the life Jesus wants individuals to lead. This act reminds individuals that no one is above service and kindness to others. According to Biblical scriptures, Jesus stated, “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them”. The act of washing our neighbor’s feet is reflective of the work Jesus conducted during His time on earth and before He died on the cross for the sins of the world.

The pop-up health clinic began with the serving of lunch and a prayer in the chapel by AUHS Founder Pastor Gregory Johnson, who offered uplifting words to inspire positivity and thoughts of hope for patrons of the Long Beach Rescue Mission for the day. This was immediately followed with an educational presentation given by senior AUHS nursing students regarding the importance of oral hygiene and its correlation with heart disease. Patrons were then escorted out toward the courtyard, where the process of filling out health assessment questionnaires began. Three to five nursing students greeted and checked blood pressure readings for the patrons of the event. Next, patrons proceeded toward the foot wash basins, also manned by sincere students willing to help, myself included. Clean socks were handed out, in addition to expert advice on medications from the up-and-coming pharmacy program faculty. Lastly, patrons were handed small backpacks containing hygiene products necessary for self-care.

Overall, my experience at the event was a positive one. Of the handful of individuals, one woman, in particular who I was able to help stood out. The woman was middle-aged, and it was obvious that she had been weathered by the sun. She had a history of diabetes since giving birth to her first child. Together, we briefly discussed gestational diabetes and I queried about her knowledge of insulin administration, her bouts with peripheral neuropathy and the importance of wound care in diabetics. She had a small wound on the bottom of one of her toes and mentioned that she is “keeping an eye on it” and that she appreciated all of the students’ help. I feel like I learned a lot about myself as well. By listening to some of the stories these people shared, I realized being homeless can happen to anyone at any time. One woman stated that she attended U.C. Berkeley at one point in her life and that she had a “little misstep” and that, she would be able to “make it right eventually”. These were people from all walks of life – young, old, African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, Native American, male and female, etc. However, one thing they all had in common, other than attending the free event was that they were sincerely appreciative of the event. There were plenty of “Thank you(s)” and “Bless you(s)” going around. I appreciated the opportunity to make a difference in the Long Beach community because it reminded me that there are plenty of people in this world who are willing to dedicate their valuable time in order to make a difference in the life of those in need.

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