Med students make good neighbors in Harrisburg

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Lorenzo Robinson, 13, walked up to Brett Heimlich outside St. Luke United Methodist Church and handed him a folded piece of paper.

Harrisburg resident and medical student Chaz Fausel, middle, has dinner with (from left) David McCall, Jarvis Wright, 12,  Jordan Stewart, 8, and Evan Garner during the St. Luke UMC mentor program in Augusta's Harrisburg neighborhood.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Harrisburg resident and medical student Chaz Fausel, middle, has dinner with (from left) David McCall, Jarvis Wright, 12, Jordan Stewart, 8, and Evan Garner during the St. Luke UMC mentor program in Augusta's Harrisburg neighborhood.

“Is this what I think it is?” Heimlich asked, scanning the page and smiling. “Look at all those E’s. That’s awesome.”

The E’s on Lorenzo’s middle school progress report stand for “Excellent.”

“Looks like you’re not going to be spending social studies over at my house,” said Heimlich, a third-year M.D./Ph.D. student at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Health Sciences University.

“I’ve got better opportunities,” Lorenzo said, grinning.

For Heimlich, Lorenzo is more than just an eighth-grader he can mentor through a program at St. Luke; Lorenzo is a neighbor.

Heimlich and three other medical students live in a historic house in Harrisburg and work in programs in the neighborhood as a way of doing more than just hanging out between classes and studying.

Heimlich and other medical students got involved through an outreach program at St. Luke in Harrisburg before deciding to move to a house sponsored by Good Neighbor Ministries, which was begun by a church member.

Joey Boaen, another third-year student, admits there was some early trepidation about what kind of reception they would get.

“I was worried about how we would be accepted, if they would appreciate us being here,” he said. But moving in “was necessary to be a part of the community,” Boaen said. “Not just come in once a week from outside.”

Heimlich said he used to do that when he first started to volunteer in the neighborhood, come in and then drive away.

“Versus now when we go and volunteer, like on Monday nights, we all walk out of the same place and walk home,” he said, “There is just a different feel. It seems like there may be more of a place to share in some of the common experiences, just because we live in the same area and face the same things as a community.”

That Monday night program at the church is called Kids with a Future, where the kids come to share a meal, some lessons and some games with the students and other volunteers. The students’ commitment to be in the community with them before and after gives the kids a chance to see what they are all about, said Marsha Jones, co-founder of the program and director of outreach for St. Luke.

“For a kid from this neighborhood, it is pretty amazing to watch,” she said. “They’re just wonderful. They’re incredible young people.”

Time in Harrisburg has helped open their eyes, said Chaz Fausel, a second-year medical student.

“I feel like Harrisburg for a lot of people is automatically sectioned off in their minds as just this bad place, full of crime,” he said. “It’s more of a realization for me that real people live here and they want to be loved and to have community just as much as anyone else in Augusta does.”

It has been a learning experience, Boaen said.

“People always assume that we think we’re going to come in and we’re going to help all of these people, which is obviously part of it. We want to help anyone we can,” he said. “But it’s more about just living alongside folks. I’ve learned probably way more than I’ve taught anyone. And I just feel blessed to be living here, living in the community and helping out however I can.”

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alumna
10
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alumna 09/18/11 - 09:00 pm
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0
How inspiring, and what a

How inspiring, and what a treasure for all involved!
I hope this takes root in Harrisburg and encourages a turnaround of the neighborhood and its residents.

willie7
961
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willie7 09/18/11 - 09:42 pm
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God bless these medical
Unpublished

God bless these medical students!!!!

raul
5010
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raul 09/18/11 - 10:17 pm
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Inspiring!

Inspiring!

countyman
20219
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countyman 09/18/11 - 11:00 pm
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I hope Harrisburg and Laney

I hope Harrisburg and Laney Walker can attract medical students similar to the CBD, Olde Town, Summerville, and Midtown..

The side of Harrisburg between 15th and Eve(where the Kroc Center is located) needs to continue gentrifying...

The side of Harrisburg between Eve street and Millege rd is mostly manicured lawns and nice homes... The local media would make you believe all of Harrisburg is sketcny..

Little Lamb
46331
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Little Lamb 09/18/11 - 11:34 pm
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(C)ountyman posted: . . . The

(C)ountyman posted:

. . . The local media would make you believe all of Harrisburg is sketcny. . . .

Wrong, wrong, wrong, (C)ountyman. It is Butch Palmer and Lori Davis who are making us believe that.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 09/19/11 - 06:46 am
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0
Good story. And it would be

Good story. And it would be nice if med students continue their efforts and turn the area around.

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 09/19/11 - 08:05 am
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Good story.....just goes to

Good story.....just goes to show what giving back to a community can do.

iLove
626
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iLove 09/19/11 - 10:01 am
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Wow! Great Job!!! MANY of
Unpublished

Wow! Great Job!!!

MANY of our youth JUST NEED the love and attention they are seeking.

Lori Davis
944
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Lori Davis 09/19/11 - 11:44 am
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St. Lukes is a wonderful

St. Lukes is a wonderful church in our community. Their leaders are actively involved in our neighborhood association as well. This church has a mission to work within the Harrisburg neighborhood and they are growing unbelievably. When Marsha Jones came to this little church as an outreach minister, she had a vision and a plan to do what a church should be doing for a neighborhood in need. Not all churches do this and I commend her for her tireless service to our citizens. They are truly making a difference!

dougk
3
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dougk 09/19/11 - 06:12 pm
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You can bet these future docs
Unpublished

You can bet these future docs won't forget those kids when they move into their mighty gated fortresses in the suburbs. They will continue their service.

commonsense-is-endangere
43
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commonsense-is-endangere 09/19/11 - 06:43 pm
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0
Brave,very brave. No need for

Brave,very brave. No need for those missionary third world doc trips.

dougk
3
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dougk 09/19/11 - 07:13 pm
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Feeling a little snarky
Unpublished

Feeling a little snarky today, Commonsense??

AutumnLeaves
8005
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AutumnLeaves 09/19/11 - 11:28 pm
0
0
This is pretty obvious. Good

This is pretty obvious. Good luck with that.

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