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First-year nursing students minister to children during Skid Row event

First-year nursing students minister to children during Skid Row event

(RIVERSIDE-Oct. 16, 2012) - Two busloads of California Baptist University nursing students and faculty pulled up to Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles Oct. 6 ready to represent Christ, the university and their profession at a back-to-school event for displaced and homeless children.

Six faculty members and 60 first-semester nursing students participated in Back to School Day, an annual event organized by Fred Jordan Missions. Throughout the day, the nursing students escorted children through tents and handed out clothes, food and school supplies while faculty members provided first aid.

“It may not be the hospital way of caring but it is right down our alley, especially as Christian nurses,” said Veletta Ogaz, assistant professor of nursing.

An estimated 7,500 children and family members were served during the event that also featured new shoes from Foot Locker, a meal from In-And-Out and a haircut compliments of a local cosmetology school.

For some of the CBU students, seeing the urban setting of Skid Row, historically known for its homeless population and displaced families, was an “eye-opening” experience, Ogaz said.

The CBU volunteers arrived at Skid Row, wearing clinical dress uniforms, to find children in pajamas, evidence that some had spent the night waiting in the 4-lane wide and 2-block long line for the event to begin at 9 a.m., Ogaz said.

“It shocked me how they were willing to sleep outside on the sidewalk all night long simply to get some clothes and a pair of new shoes,” said Carissa Townsend, junior nursing major. “It was so humbling and made me thankful for all that God has blessed me with.”

The faculty members found their first aid services needed after a baby stopped breathing and became unresponsive during the event.

Ogaz was amazed at the CBU students’ and faculty’s immediate response during the situation.

“This is (the students’) first semester,” Ogaz said. “I can’t even imagine what kind of nurses they’ll be at the end.”

Alongside handing out protein bars and bookmarks, CBU’s tent at the event featured small “Jesus Loves You” stickers. The stickers became a way for the students and faculty members to “spread the word and be a representative” of Christ, Ogaz said. “They were our way of saying, ‘Hey, we’re here and we represent CBU, but there is also a cross on our shoulders. We represent Jesus, too.’”

The School of Nursing hopes to participate in the event again in the coming years, Ogaz said.

“I never thought that we would be out doing something like this in nursing school, but I am so thankful that we did,” Townsend said. “This experience is just one of many examples of how the CBU nursing program is set apart from other programs, and it demonstrates how we can serve in the community through nursing with a Christian worldview.”

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Caption: Left: An estimated 7,500 children and their families participated in Fred Jordan Mission's Back to School Day. First-year nursing students at California Baptist University work with children at the Skid Row event.