School of Nursing Honored for Work with San Francisco Homeless

Students and faculty from Samuel Merritt University’s School of Nursing were honored by the California State Senate at a luncheon in San Francisco Wednesday, Oct. 1. In partnership with Episcopal Community Services, SMU nursing students have provided free healthcare services to the city’s formerly homeless and low-income residents for the past decade.

At the Awards Luncheon, held at the historic Julia Morgan Ballroom, state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) presented an official Certificate of Recognition from the Senate to Joan Bard, associate professor at SMU.

“I commend Samuel Merritt University on its continued dedication and service to the people of San Francisco,” Leno said. “Your commitment to educating the future generation of nurses ensures that members of our community will continue to have access to quality healthcare.”

The recognition honored SMU’s 10-year relationship with ECS, a San Francisco non-profit that provides social services and temporary housing for the city’s formerly homeless population. Since 2005, nearly 600 SMU students who’ve enrolled in the Community Health Nursing course have volunteered at ECS sites to provide healthcare ECS clients.

The work with the underserved population is an integral lesson in compassion for many SMU students, said assistant professor Miriam Eisenhart, who co-founded the program.

“Our students are transformed by their experiences of providing health care, listening to and building relationships with members of our society who are among the most marginalized,” Eisenhart said. “This integrates the practice of compassion and social justice into their identities as nurses both professionally and personally.”   
Bard, who was joined at the luncheon by 10 SMU students who currently volunteer at ECS, said the nursing students will not soon forget their experiences and lessons learned.

“We all add our voices to the chorus of volunteers who say, ‘We gain more than we give,’” Bard said to the luncheon audience. “We are grateful for the recognition and for the support of ECS.”

All photos are courtesy of Episcopal Community Services (ECS) and feature as follows, from top to bottom:  Joan Bard, associate professor, speaking to the audience at Julia Morgan Ballroom; Joan Bard with ECS board members; Joan, State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and other award winners; Joan with SMU nursing students.
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