Your Impact

Outreach Van Project

Donations to programs like the Outreach Van Project (OVP) at BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine help sustain and nourish the connection between students, care and the community.

“I knew about it before I even got here,” Grace Olson (CAMED ’26), OVP executive board member, says of the distinguishing quality the program has for the School.

Every Thursday the Outreach Van Project (OVP), a student led organization, drives to Central Square Park, also called Alfred L. Bertulli Park, in East Boston to distribute produce, nonperishable foods, toiletries (including diapers and COVID tests) and clothes to the underserved population in the neighborhood. A physician works with students to provide basic medical care and referrals.

student volunteers give out food and clothes on a Thursday with the Outreach Van Project
People who come to the Outreach Van Project’s spot in East Boston on any Thursday will find kind faces, wholesome food, and basic medical care no matter the weather.

The OVP has been putting the school’s values of integrity, service, equality, and collaboration into action since 1997.

Club President Caleb Lim (CAMED ’26) says they “serve the underserved- including the homeless, elderly, and immigrant populations. We see more and more underserved immigrant populations that do not speak English. Their communities hear about us and so they all come together. We try to connect [them] with locations that help with wellness like The Community Resource and Wellness Center,” a local community health center.

When they find out OVP is free to anyone who comes and you don’t need to sign up, Lim says he loves seeing their faces light up. The van itself becomes not just a vessel for delivering food, toiletries and COVID tests, but also a place for students to catch up with each other, unwind and quiz each other for their exams, and a way to interact with the people they serve in a personal way. Students say it reminds them why they study medicine.

7 Outreach Van Project volunteers from an August 2023 drive left to right:
Matthew(’26), Brent (MAMS program), Caleb (’26), Mahaa (MAMS program), Leslie (MAMS program), Andrew(’26), Sam (’26). The program runs every Thursday year-round with students signing up for a handful of slots each.

“There are other clubs that work with those populations in clinic settings, but none of them actually give out goods, go to the streets for it, or have this student-run component to the level that we have,” says Lim.

With the support of donors, BU Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine OVP maintains a standard of consistency that the community can rely on. Philanthropy enables this meaningful experience for our students and impact on the underserved community in East Boston.

Learn more at the Outreach Van Project webpage or from BU Today’s articles.

Support the Outreach Van Project.