For some, People’s City Mission is a place of hope when they have nowhere else to turn. For others, the mission is a place that brings out the best in people.
“Many of the patients are so grateful for our care,” explained Sarah Dolezal, a rural Nebraska native now in her final year of the Union College PA program. Dolezal is completing a clinical rotation in family medicine at the People’s City Mission Free Clinic. “One of my patients was asthmatic and his inhaler ran out,” she remembered. “He was between jobs so he couldn’t pay for another inhaler, and I helped him get one. He was so thankful. He hugged me and told me he would love to bring his kids to me in my clinic some day.”
At the fifth annual Community Appreciation Breakfast on Thursday, January 28, Union College will honor People’s City Mission with the Community Partnership Award. The award is given to recognize a local business, foundation or organization’s steadfast dedication in helping Union College accomplish its mission—to create a personal, student-focused community, which empowers students for a lifetime of learning, service and leadership.
Since 1907 People’s City Mission has served Lincoln residents who live in poverty. Each year the missions serves 30,000 people through its homeless shelter, free clinic, Homeless Prevention Center, afterschool kids’ club and many other programs.
“The Community Partnership Award was created to demonstrate how much Union College appreciates organizations and businesses in the Lincoln community that have consistently shown their dedication toward helping provide the best possible education for our students,” said Scot Coppock, Union College director of leadership giving and coordinator of the event. “People’s City Mission has proven their commitment by providing Union’s nursing and PA students an opportunity for clinical rotations, by mentoring our social work students, by allowing our students to provide service to the Mission and coordinate Bible and prayer meetings.”
“One of the great blessing of working at the mission is working with volunteers, but what is really exciting to me is when young people volunteer, because they are the future,” said Pastor Tom Barber, director of People’s City Mission. “When we can get them to volunteer and connect to poverty and to the stories, I think we are creating a new generation of people who will not just carry the torch, but carry it a lot further than my generation. I am just delighted to have students at Union College—kids who have done a great job for us and we are so blessed to have them.”
Elizabeth McDonald, a sophomore theology major at Union, organizes bimonthly Friday ministry trips to People’s City Mission. “When we go to the mission we work in the kitchen serving food. The head cooks are Randy and Mike. They cook up great meals for the community and we get to serve them and help out.”
There are only seven spots available each trip, and McDonald says that sometimes they have to turn students away. “Students love going to People’s City Mission,” she said. “It’s a place of peace for so many. Their ministry is so powerful.”
For Dolezal, her experience with the mission started well before the PA program. She started volunteering in the clinic—measuring patient’s vital signs and helping with the intake process—while studying exercise science at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Now in her final year of Union’s PA program, she is embracing the role of medical care provider.
“It’s a great experience for PAs and I would recommend it,” she said of her clinical rotation at People’s City Mission. “You get to do and learn a lot. The medical staff are quite willing to let you do the physical exam and treatment plan and then work with a preceptor to approve it or make suggestions.”
Last year, the inaugural Community Partnership Award was given to Union Bank and Trust.
By Natalie Bruzon, student writer