Every Thursday the Outreach Van Project (OVP), a group of first- and second-year medical students, travels to East Boston to feed and care for the homeless. The students unpack a van full of food, clothing and supplies, and distribute them throughout the night to anyone in need. Accompanied by a physician, they also provide necessary medical care, and over the years have built a positive rapport with their clients. OVP is a reliable, consistent source of food and supplies for a population that desperately needs it.
Established by students in 1997, more than 1,400 people are served annually through the OVP. One harsh December night Gillian Smith, a videographer with the Communications Office, accompanied them. The maroon van sat under a single street light with its doors propped open, inviting passersby to take something from inside. Outside the van stood half a dozen medical students, bundled up against the single-digit temperature. With plastic gloves pulled over their winter ones, they scooped hot food into clear containers and gave it to a line of people waiting on the sidewalk.