This month, the Global Medical Brigades (GMB) chapter at UCCS is entering their final stages of fundraising for their upcoming trip abroad to Guatemala, where students will provide medical aid and health education to underserved individuals in the community.
The GMB club is raising funds for the trip through an on-campus banquet and silent auction on March 24, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Berger Hall.
The event is free to enter, but attendees must RSVP ahead of time. According to co-presidents Taigan Lowman and Maxfield Kelly, the banquet will include street-style tacos — which are available to students, staff, faculty and members of the community — in addition to other Guatemalan-inspired foods.
The silent auction will have over 60 items available for attendees to bid on, and all funds raised will be allocated toward GMB’s upcoming brigade. “A lot of local businesses donated things. We have ski lift tickets, a TV, a stay in Las Vegas … we do have a bunch of smaller items as well, like gift cards and things that are definitely more affordable for people our age,” Lowman said.
The event will also include some opening remarks from Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Carlos García, as well as a brief overview of the club’s past brigades to Panama, Nicaragua and Ghana.
While the GMB chapter at UCCS receives funding to help mitigate travel costs, Lowman and Kelly explained that the club still requires additional funds to pay for out-of-pocket expenses.
“We bring medical supplies with us, and so there’s a lot of costs that are added on to that just with baggage fees, and sometimes we even have to buy medical supplies out-of-pocket,” Lowman said.
Students are encouraged to come to this event in support of GMB’s upcoming brigade, but also to learn more about the club’s mission and its opportunities for students. “There’s a huge part of the Global Medical Brigades that isn’t just medical,” Kelly said. “We’ve taken business majors with us in the past, as well as majors who are just interested in helping the public.”
In GMB’s most recent brigade to Ghana, students helped over 200 patients, but were also tasked with responsibilities like building biodigester latrines, and teaching underprivileged communities hygiene skills. “The idea behind this was being able to include people who aren’t just involved in a medical profession or want to be in the sciences,” Kelly said.
Lowman also shared the sentiment that participating in GMB, and building friendships with her teammates, has changed her outlook on life. “You come back not only with experiences that humble you, but also with people that you’re probably going to have for the rest of your life,” she said.
While the upcoming brigade is currently at capacity, students are invited to attend club meetings every Thursday at 5 p.m. in Hybl 312.
“It’s been hard to … recoup from COVID because we had two brigades that were canceled in that time period, so we’re also trying to get more involved with local volunteering,” Lowman said. “We want to make [GMB] accessible for those who still want to be active by volunteering in the community.”
UCCS Global Medical Brigades in Ghana, 2022. Photo from Mountain Lion Connect.