4/25/2014 1:21:04 AM

Student Honored for Service at Health Clinic

Monday, November 12, 2012

By Lexi Palma '13

Ananda Brinkmann ’13 received the Volunteer Appreciation Award from the Capital City Rescue Mission forher work at its free clinic. The Capital City Rescue Mission Free Clinic in Albany is a non-profit organization that administers basic health care and medical care to those who are homeless. Medical professionals and volunteers, including Brinkmann, help the poor or uninsured with episodic and primary care.

The Ulster Park, New York native said she does a little bit of everything for her patients, including intake and vitals, education on chronic diseases, communication with other health care facilities and even clipping toe nails for diabetics who cannot reach their feet. “Most of all, it's a service of presence, just being able to be there with the guests of the Mission and develop relationships,” Brinkmann said.

Brinkmann is the youngest person to receive this award from the Capital City Rescue Mission.“I was caught completely off guard but was extremely honored,” Brinkmann said. “When I was just starting at the Clinic I know I had doubts that I would be a good fit for the place as I had never worked with such a population in such a setting before.”

She has volunteered at the Free Clinic since the spring of 2011 and said the staff and patients were gracious and encouraged her to grow into her current role.“My mentors there have taught me invaluable lessons about medicine and health care and more importantly, life lessons on how it all fits into the bigger picture of social justice in the health sector,” Brinkmann said. She said Sarah Schoof, FNP, Linda Brown, RN, Laura Haskins, RN, Ibrahima Diop and Nadine O'Brien, RN are true heroes. “Even after I graduate and move on, they will still be there carrying on the mission and changing the community through their hard work, dedication and love,” Brinkmann said.

Brinkmann, who carries a 3.6 grade point average, became involved with the clinic through her work with the Siena College Bonner Service Leaders Program, which is run through AmeriCorps and the Bonner Foundation. She has logged more than 1,500 hours of service at the Capital City Resuce Mission Free Clinic so far and will complete more than 1,800 hours  by the time she graduates in May. 

“Ananda is a great leader,” said Assistant Director of Academic Community Engagement and Coordinator of the Bonner Service Leaders Program Tony Rivera. “She lives the mission of the Bonner Program. She is humble and modest, as well as focused and driven. I’m happy she’s in the program and her award was very well-deserved.”

The Siena Bonner Service Leaders combine academic studies, including hands on experience, with community service to gain a better understanding of community and social justice issues.

“The work I do at the clinic is the kind of direct service work that Bonner is all about,” Brinkmann said. “I am on the ground level observing the health care system with all its shortcomings and serving those who have fallen through the cracks but are not forgotten. It ties into what I want to do with my life. Not only do I want to pursue a career in medicine, but I want to serve an underserved population and practice a type of medicine that is holistic and preserves the dignity of the human being.”

Brinkmann said serving at the Capital City Rescue Mission Free Clinic every Friday is a highlight of her week. “I am so blessed to serve in such a wonderful place where the bureaucracy of health care has no power. If a patient needs a referral, we will use our network of health professionals who believe and support the mission of the Clinic and we will connect him or her with a specialist who will take them on for free,” Brinkmann said. She added that the Clinic relies on donations for supplies, equipment and medications.

The Bonner Program thrives because of students like Brinkmann who have a passion for service. As a senior Bonner Service Leader, she has set an example for younger students. Brinkmann has been accepted into the Albany Medical College Physician’s Assistants Program. She will graduate in May with a degree in Biology and a minor in Multicultural Studies.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

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