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James Madison University

OT students volunteer at Open Doors

OT students volunteer at Open Doors

The JMU OT Class of 2018 volunteered at Open Doors the week of Jan 30- Feb 6 in conjunction with a course in which they are enrolled, OT 580 Occupational Dysfunction Cause & Impact.  Open Doors is a thermal winter time shelter for individuals in our area without homes whose mission is “To engage the community of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County in partnership to provide shelter, compassionate support and access to services for people who are homeless (http://www.valleyopendoors.org/).” 

Over the course of the week, 23 OT students and a Pre-OT student served meals, cleaned bathrooms, showers and the church kitchen, mopped floors, did laundry, monitored showers and smoking breaks, folded and distributed towels and helped load the truck for its next destination alongside members of the Church of the Incarnation (http://theincarnation.org/).  They also engaged the guests in conversation and listened to their life stories as they ate dinner together and helped to problem-solve as different situations arose throughout the evening. An example of problem-solving included recognizing signs of high blood sugar in a woman with diabetes and caring for her as her condition worsened before the rescue squad arrived.  Other types of problem solving included making it possible for individuals who needed some accommodations to bathe, and comforting those who were visibly upset from the events of the day.  Students viewed life from a different perspective and interacted with other related professionals and students preparing for professions with whom they will likely work, such as social workers, nurses, rescue workers and overnight staff, all of whom are integral to Open Doors. 

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