Employees reach out to neighbors in Forest Park Southeast

About 25 families in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood adjoining the Medical Campus will have a brighter holiday this year thanks to the generosity of School of Medicine employees.

The Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corp. (WUMCRC), which works closely with neighborhood groups in addressing employment, public improvements, home repair and security and public-safety issues, has coordinated a Holiday Outreach Program for nearly 10 years.

(From left) Brooks Goedeker, community development specialist for WUMCRC; Adam Chestnut, warehouse/inventory clerk at the School of Medicine Post Office; Maurice Harris, WUMCRC intern; and Larry Chestnut, support services attendant II at the School of Medicine Post Office, load donated gifts into trucks to be delivered to needy families in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood last December.

The WUMCRC staff work with area social-service providers to identify families who live in the neighborhood and are in immediate need due to loss of a job, an illness or another emergency situation, said Brooks Goedeker, community development specialist for WUMCRC. Once accepted, they are matched with a medical school department, which works to fill the specific needs of each family.

“A lot of these families do not have any means to purchase gifts or even to have a holiday meal,” Goedeker said. “This program helps the families stay on their feet and have a wonderful holiday. For a lot of the families, this is just what they need in order to give them the hope and jump-start for the New Year.”

Goedeker said the departments do a great job fulfilling these requests.

“The families are always overwhelmed,” Goedeker said. “It’s really a neat experience.”

This year, about 25 departments are participating in the program. In addition to fulfilling material needs, such a gifts, food, clothing, bedding, toys and small appliances, some departments also assist families who are behind on utility bills.

“This program really helps the people in the neighborhood connect to the Medical Campus and lets them know that the campus employees care that their neighbors are doing well,” Goedeker said.