Selwyn Vickers 4 LREvery year around this time, I am reminded that we at the School of Medicine have much for which to be thankful. Above all, we are fortunate to be part of an organization that makes a real difference in people’s lives through the care we provide, the students we train, and the research we conduct in our labs with the potential to change the future of treatment for many diseases.

For this reason, I launched an initiative not long after becoming dean called Season of Service. Each year beginning in the fall, I challenge School of Medicine senior leadership and the Dean’s Office staff to reflect on ways we can give back to those in need in our local community. This includes opportunities for hands-on service as well as making charitable donations to specific causes.

This year’s Season of Service began in September with a site build with Habitat for Humanity, which was coordinated through the UAB Benevolent Fund. For the past five years, the UAB Benevolent Fund has collaborated with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham to support the build of a member of our community. During that time, over 2,500 UAB employees have given over 10,000 hours of their time, and the support of UAB employees has helped contribute nearly $250,000 toward five builds. 

At the September build, 19 School of Medicine volunteers gave 75 hours of their time. They helped with framing and sheathing walls, building porch beams, setting trusses, running sub fascia, and installing insulation board. Click here to view an online photo album of the event.

In November, a group of volunteers served dinner to an estimated 35 women and children at Jessie’s Place, a local shelter for women and children that offers support and counseling to help them become strong and self-sufficient. In addition to raising money to purchase the meal, a contingent of volunteers helped with setup, serving, and cleanup after the meal. You can view photos of the event by clicking here.

Each year, we also adopt one or more families through the Benevolent Fund, raising money to purchase gifts and other holiday necessities. This year we are supporting a single mother who is raising three girls—ages 4, 9, and 15—and a 12-year-old son. Money is being raised through a variety of fundraising strategies, including the always-popular Jeans Fridays, by which participants purchase the privilege of wearing jeans on Fridays through the holidays. 

Not only do these activities help people in our community, they are also great team-building opportunities that allow our faculty and staff to get to know each other outside of work. I am proud of these efforts and know that through them we nourish our own spirits even as we support our neighbors in need. I wish you a happy Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends and filled with gratitude for your own blessings.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
Senior Vice President for Medicine
Dean, UAB School of Medicine
James C. Lee Jr. Endowed Chair
University of Alabama at Birmingham