Cultivating a Neighboring Community Through Service By Kelsey Whitcomb

At the heart of my passion for community service is the desire to be a good neighbor. A community thrives when neighbors look out for one another; they share their own gifts and talents and graciously accept help from each other. One of the things that drew me to SCO from the very beginning was this sort of neighboring mentality that permeates the air at 1245 Madison Ave. Any time I have needed help finding anything from car repair shops, to the best ER to go to, off-the-beaten-path restaurants, veterinarians, brunch specials, and the multitude of other things you need to find when you move to a new city, I have always gotten excellent and immediate advice from the SCO family. The sense of neighborhood extends outside of the Tower and The Eye Center, and out into all corners of Memphis—SCO students, faculty, and staff spend countless hours volunteering their time to serve our fellow Memphians, and last year I was lucky enough to take part in planning a different sort of volunteering event: the first-annual Eye Serve Memphis day of service.

One of the main goals of Eye Serve Memphis is to give SCO students and alumni the chance to work together to serve Memphis in settings other than eyecare. SCO has a multitude of opportunities to volunteer your time, knowledge, and optometric skills through events like Project Homeless Connect, EyeSpy at the Zoo, health fairs, and community vision screenings, but we wanted to create a large-scale event that would have us leave our ophthalmoscopes and transilluminators at home and allow us to engage in service in other ways. In planning for Eye Serve 2018, we worked hard to partner with organizations that are doing awesome work all across Memphis, but all outside of healthcare. SCO students and alumni worked on neighborhood beautification with the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, helped dogs at Memphis Animal Services find their forever homes, cleaned up at the Memphis Zoo, and helped perform home maintenance with Dorothy Day House in their mission to address family homelessness here in Memphis.

We are rolling along with plans for this year’s event, and can’t wait to release our list of partner organizations for Eye Serve 2019. Get ready to leave your white coats behind (just for the day, don’t worry) and prepare to serve Memphis in a new way!

Kelsey Whitcomb is a second-year student from Holland, Michigan. Her optometric interests include community-based services and public health, and she spends her time outside of school gardening and romping around the backyard with her husband and two dogs.