UChicago Medicine celebrates 22 years of serving community service

Nearly 200 University of Chicago Medicine volunteers, including a dozen senior leaders, came together on Saturday, June 29 to support 17 South Side and south suburban organizations across nine communities as part of the health system’s annual Day of Service and Reflection (DOSAR).

The tradition was started 22 years ago by former first lady Michelle Obama. This year’s service projects included painting, gardening, cleaning, organizing, care package assembly and working in a food pantry and thrift store, all to help strengthen the communities the health system serves.

It takes all of us to contribute to strengthening community and strengthening wellness.” Franklin Cosey-Gay, PhD, MPH, Executive Director, Community & External Affairs, Urban Health Initiative, University of Chicago Medicine.

Brenda Battle, RN, BSN, MBA, Senior Vice President for Community Health Transformation and Chief Equity Officer at UChicago Medicine, called the annual Day of Service and Reflection one of the most important things the health system can do for its community. It provides not just funds but also hands to help the organizations accomplish their goals, she said.

“In truth, we’re better able to do the work we do if they're able to do the work they do,” she said.

Mark Anderson, MD, PhD, Dean and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs at UChicago Medicine, said DOSAR gives employees an opportunity to engage in the community in a way that differs from their day-to-day experiences.

The volunteers learned more about their community’s needs and also about each other — something Anderson embraced while painting with his DOSAR team.

Despite the heat and humidity, there were smiles aplenty and time for reflection on volunteers’ and UChicago Medicine’s roles in the community.

“Medicine is the part that heals, but healing is holistic. We have to be able to pour into the whole person. I think volunteering in the community lets people know that we do care,” said Angela Young, Coordinator for Business Development and Physician Relations at UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial.

Members of the WNBA's Chicago Sky also joined in to make a difference. The Chicago Sky and UChicago Medicine have a multiyear partnership that names the academic health system as the official medical provider and a major sponsor of the team.

“I learned so much today about what this neighborhood means and what they need, and I'm just glad we can lend a hand,” said WNBA Chicago Sky player Isabelle Harrison. “Seeing my teammates really just give a helping hand, I think it's everything. It always makes your day better when you're helping out your community.”