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Service Learning Project Brings Together Medical Students in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine and Eight Nonprofit Agencies from the Spirit of Giving Network

The Community Advocacy, Research, Engagement and Service or C.A.R.E.S. Project Fosters Partnerships to Address Vital Community Needs

BOCA RATON, FL (November 15, 2012) - Medical students in Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine have selected eight nonprofit organizations in Broward and Palm Beach counties to work on a collaborative new project to help address vital community needs such as Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, child abuse, health and social services for minority populations, childhood grief due to loss of family members, autism, and developmental disorders. The Community Advocacy, Research, Engagement and Service or C.A.R.E.S. project came to life last spring when the Spirit of Giving Network (SOGN), an organization made up of 60 nonprofits, met with the college’s first year medical students. The students were introduced to 17 different nonprofit organizations during a fair co-hosted by FAU and SOGN.

“We are very excited about what FAU’s medical students will offer to these organizations and ultimately to the members of our communities,” said Karen Krumholtz, executive director of SOGN. “This innovative program is going to make them better medical professionals overall and will teach them early in their careers the important role physicians have in community health and well-being.”

The eight organizations selected by the medical students are the American Association for Caregiving Youth, Caridad Center, Guatemalan-Maya Center, KidSafe Foundation, Louis & Anne Green Memory & Wellness Center, Palm Beach School for Autism, Tomorrow’s Rainbow and Twin Palms.

C.A.R.E.S. is co-directed by Catherine Myser, Ph.D., director of ethics, social medicine and global health and Julie C. Servoss, M.D., M.P.H., assistant dean for diversity, cultural and student affairs in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. The program is divided into eight service groups with eight students in each group. In August, Myser and the students met with their respective organizations to brainstorm about the projects they collaboratively wanted to design and execute.

“This program aligns perfectly with the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine’s core mission of service to our community,” said Myser. “These students will enter our local communities and engage those in need as equal partners to humbly learn from them and tailor more culturally competent support services.”

SOGN began informally in 2001, and is supported by Dick and Barbara Schmidt, the same family and name bestowed on the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. SOGN was officially formed in 2007, and has since evolved into a service leader in the community. The synergistic partnering of dual Schmidt family funded initiatives adds to the value that the Schmidt family brings to South Florida in their philanthropic efforts.

“This project is very important because it defines the purpose of why we are here—to help people and to leave something behind,” said Rachel Fowler, a second year medical student in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. “I selected the Louis and Anne Green Memory & Wellness Center to enable me to work with geriatric patients and to have a better understanding of a population who will ultimately be in my care.”

About the Nonprofit Organizations:

American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY®): AACY recognizes, supports, and promotes the awareness of dual role youth that are both students and caregivers within their families. AACY® strives to raise awareness through education, research and direct services in cooperation with social, education, healthcare, government and community corporations, organizations and agencies. Caregiving Youth are children and adolescents who are 18 years of age or younger and who provide significant or substantial assistance, often on a regular basis, to relatives or household members who need help because of physical or mental illness, disability, frailty associated with aging, substance misuse, or other conditions.

Caridad Center: The center operates free medical and dental clinics that provide vital health services to the uninsured, working poor families of Palm Beach County. In fiscal year 2010-2011, the center had more than 25,000 patient visits. The medical services at Caridad Center save millions of dollars in uncompensated hospital care for the taxpayers of Palm Beach County by reducing the number of patients who use emergency room services because they have nowhere else to go. Through outreach and education programs, Caridad Center offers homework assistance, college scholarships, holiday programs and emergency services for patients in financial crisis. The center’s mission is to upgrade the health, education and living standards of underserved children and families.

Guatemalan/Maya Center: The mission of the center is to assist, advocate, and provide services to Mayan refugees and others as appropriate in the areas including, but not limited to, education, health, immigration, cultural continuity, and family preservation and empowerment consistent with the Mayan culture as they embrace their new environment. The center advocates for those inalienable rights that are given to all people through the natural process of life so that the Maya may be able to spiritually live in peace.

KidSafe Foundation: The mission of the organization is to bring educational programs and materials to children and adults to prevent child abuse, bullying and internet safety dangers. KidSafe’s goal is to give children a voice and empower adults to be the first line of defense in their child’s safety. KidSafe has educated more than 30,000 children and lectured to thousands of adults. The organization believes that 95 percent of abuse and exploitation of children is preventable through education and that every child and adult deserves the right to learn how to keep themselves safe.

Louis and Anne Green Memory & Wellness Center: The center is part of Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and is grounded in the college's concept of caring. The center’s mission is to meet the complex needs of individuals with memory disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), and their families through a comprehensive array of services, compassionate and innovative programs of care, research and education. In addition to service, the center conducts research on best practices in care for individuals with AD and related disorders and caregiver support. The center also provides practicum experiences for students of nursing, medicine, social work, exercise science, communication disorders, health administration and other disciplines.

The Palm Beach School for Autism: The school’s mission is to provide developmentally appropriate education using intensive behavioral strategies for students with autism spectrum disorder and related disabilities. The Palm Beach School for Autism accepts children with the primary eligibility of autism spectrum disorder for students enrolling in elementary and middle school programs. Their preschool program accepts children with autism spectrum disorder, speech and language delay, developmental delay; other health impaired and related disabilities. All students are enrolled with an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and enrollment is on a first-come first-served basis.

Tomorrow’s Rainbow, Inc.: This organization is a special place for children who have experienced the death of a loved one. By incorporating miniature horse interactions with therapeutic play areas and facilitated peer support, children are given the tools necessary to take their own personal grief journey in a way that is meaningful to them. Tomorrow's Rainbow is a safe place where children feel, often for the first time, understood.

Twin Palms Center: This center provides a unique day program for individuals diagnosed with developmental delays, by offering social, academic, and daily living skills training in a secure learning environment. The Twin Palms experience gives these adults the opportunity to become active participants at home and in their communities through a creative, instructional program designed to encourage each individual’s greatest personal potential. The center’s mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with developmental challenges and they seek to encourage individual growth and development by teaching social, academic and daily living skills in a safe and supportive environment.


About Spirit of Giving Network :
The Spirit of Giving Network is a collaborative of community non-profit organizations primarily focused on children and families in South Palm Beach County. More than 60 non profit organizations work together to strengthen the community, promote civic engagement and identify resources for the county’s most underserved populations. For more information about the Spirit of Giving Network, please visit , Facebook or Twitter (@SOGNetwork).

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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