For Ramneek Kaur, helping others requires a lot of hard work, and plenty of hope.
Kaur, a cellular and molecular biology major at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), is providing hope in her own way, as president of the Homeless Outreach Promoting Empathy (HOPE) student organization.
HOPE’s outreach involves providing hygiene kits, medical care, and assistance for homeless individuals—up to three times per month—by organizing events in areas where homelessness is prevalent.
“My passion for community involvement comes from growing up and realizing the issues surrounding our community, and seeing people struggle for basic needs, like hygiene items,” said Kaur, who was a founding member of HOPE in spring 2013. “After joining, my first question was ‘what can I do as an individual to give back to my community, and how I can better the community?’ These are the questions that still drive me to this day.”
For her “civic engagement and public service work,” and the positive impact she and the other members of HOPE have had on the community, Kaur was honored with the Student Civic Engagement Award on Oct. 26 during CSUDH’s 2017 Founders’ Dinner: Accelerating Success at the Porsche Experience Center in Carson.
“I can’t think of anyone better than Ramneek for the Student Civic Engagement Award because of all the hours, and all the efforts—on top of her academics—that she spends for HOPE to make it work,” said Sophia Momand, staff physician in Student Health and Psychological Services at CSUDH, who works side-by-side with HOPE.
Many HOPE members were attracted to the organization to gain knowledge and experience from Momand, who has been delivering hygiene kits and providing basic health care for the homeless on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles for nearly 20 years.
In fact, HOPE’s existence and mission spawned from students, like Kaur, who began volunteering to assist Momand in her efforts.
“Ramneek is my right-hand lady. She is there when I need her,” said Momand. “She makes sure that all the meetings are conducted, all the hygiene kits are put together, and all the members are looked after. Her heart is in it, she loves helping people, and it just shows when she works with me.”
Kaur has contributed to much of HOPE’s success in becoming a significant and exceedingly active community outreach program for the homeless. Her student colleagues benefit from her leadership and mentorship, which has helped the organization consistently grow and attract those who desire to give back.
“Giving back to my community has taught us a life lesson; that you should not take things in your daily life for granted, even something as simple as hygiene items,” said Kaur.
HOPE is currently planning two events that will take place in January 2018, including a hygiene assembly meeting where members come together to assemble the kits while discussing future outings and activities. To raise funds, the organization hosts events, works hard to get the word out about its mission, and accepts donations throughout the academic year.
“We sold Jamba Juice tickets this semester, and we were able to put together 80 hygiene kits from the profits,” said Kaur. “Students do not have to major in health or science to join us. Everyone is welcome to help create a better future for homeless individuals and families.”
After graduating from CSUDH, Kaur plans to attend medical school and continue giving back to local communities, as well as overseas.
“As a pre-med student, I still have a lot of information to learn and understand that will enable me to come back to the university to apply my medical knowledge to HOPE’s mission,” she said.