UH Med Now

Vandalism strikes H.O.M.E. Project RV, GoFundMe donations reflect community support

Date: September 8th, 2021 in Care, Collaboration, Community Outreach, COVID-19, Donors, Family Medicine, Giving, Hawaii HOME Project, MINORITY, Native Hawaiian, Native Hawaiian Health, Rural    Print or PDF

In February, its catalytic converter was stolen. Over Labor Day weekend, the van’s brake lights were smashed, and one side and its back were heavily tagged.

We continue to receive donations beyond what was needed to clean the graffiti so we have increased our fundraising goal. You can assist by going to the GoFundMe page. With additional funds we plan to wrap the RV, which will protect it from future graffiti vandalism. We are also working to expand our fleet to allow us to expand our reach so we can use additional funds toward these efforts. Thank you again for helping us to help the community.

Sometime late last night or in the dark hours of the morning of Sept. 4, 2021, vandals tagged the Hawaii H.O.M.E. Project van at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). We know that publicizing the destructive tagging and damage to the medical service van glorifies the criminals, but it is also an opportunity to emphasize the value of its outreach by volunteer medical students and faculty, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hawaii H.O.M.E. Project stands for Houseless Outreach & Medical Education and provides FREE medical care and medications to Oahu’s houseless population. The RV serves as a mobile medical van to where it is most needed. It currently provides free medical services to sheltered and unsheltered houseless individuals through weekly student-run free clinics at nine sites across Oahu. In addition to these clinics, the mobile health van is used for outreach to other unsheltered houseless populations on Oahu and it provides special events for the keiki at the shelters.

Earlier this year, the RV was targeted twice: A window was broken and items were stolen, and a second time the catalytic converter was removed.

“Our mobile van is critical for the functioning of our clinic and we can’t provide our usual services without it. All of our operational costs are usually paid for via grants and grassroots fundraising, so unexpected expenses like these are extremely hard on us,” said Dr. Jill Omori, Associate Professor of Family Medicine & Community Health, Director, Office of Medical Education, and Executive Director, Hawaii H.O.M.E. Project.

“To find the RV once again vandalized sometime last night is devastating for our medical students because volunteering on van missions is one of JABSOM’s requirements in the medical doctor program,” Omori said.

Paula Bender, UH Med Now

Featured photo: The back of the H.O.M.E. Project van with smashed brake lights and graffiti. Photo by Paula Bender.

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