Three people holding bags of donated goods
WSU College of Nursing students Shelby Garman, left, and Sarah Holt, center, deliver gloves, hats and socks for 100 kids to Daniel Hannawalt-Morales, community outreach and development manager at the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center in Spokane. 

Health sciences students at Washington State University are learning leadership and service in Spokane’s East Central neighborhood. 

Student clubs applied for small grants to undertake projects they designed in coordination with schools and nonprofits in the neighborhood.

The College of Nursing’s pediatric nursing club, for example, worked with the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center to supply gloves, hats and socks to kids in an after-school program. Students from the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences worked on a mentoring program at Shaw Middle School. And Speech and Hearing Sciences students from the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine have an ongoing literacy project at Grant Elementary School.

“This is student-driven, which is more powerful for the students,” said Veronica Puente, assistant director for service learning and community engagement at WSU Health Sciences Spokane.

The grants range from $100 to $300 for the semester and are supported by the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund.

Daniel Hannawalt-Morales, community outreach and development manager of the MLK Family Outreach Center, said the need is great in East Central, one of Spokane’s poorest neighborhoods.

“The majority of people we serve are way under the poverty level, and the demand for services is up from last year,” he said.

WSU Health Sciences chose East Central because the college campus is within its boundaries. Puente said her office’s goal is to create connections between the community and the campus, which help both.

“If health sciences students leave our campus with more awareness and mindfulness, with an ability to learn and listen, they’ll be better prepared to serve a population or community, or in leadership roles,” she said.

The mini-grants are part of WSU Health Sciences’ Cougs in the Community program that matches students who are interested in service learning with community partners.

When nursing students Shelby Garman and Sarah Holt dropped off 100 socks, hats and gloves at the MLK Family Outreach Center recently, Hannawalt-Morales told them, “I’m so happy you called. This time of year we’re trying to make sure we have enough for everyone.”

–Addy Hatch, WSU News