group of volunteers in a parking lot

Service. Community focus. Helping the underserved.

These are the words most often used when students, staff or faculty members are asked what drew them to EVMS.

It is certainly a motivation for Jason Azar who recently organized a group of EVMS volunteers for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clean the Bay Day. “I was attracted to the vision of wanting to be the most community-oriented school of medicine and health professions in the United States,” says the EVMS Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons Administrator.

As the school prepared to celebrate its first half century, there was no question that a major part of the festivities should be about giving back.

“At EVMS, we are dedicated to improving the health and lives of everyone in our surrounding communities,” says Alfred Abuhamad, MD, President, Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine and Mason C. Andrews Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology. “As part of the effort to celebrate our 50th Anniversary, we want to continue our legacy of service with a year of giving back.”

Dr. Abuhamad asked all students, staff, residents, faculty, community faculty and alumni to join the effort to spend the next year serving the communities that worked so hard to build and sustain EVMS.

Since the Year of Service began in July 2023, volunteers have logged more than 23,000 hours.

“This was a great opportunity to help make my neighborhood and community a better place,” says Kristine Meloche, MPA Class of 2024. “My neighbors and I helped clean up the park and the roads around our neighborhood.”

In addition to volunteering, the EVMS community rallied for a campus-wide food drive to honor the milestone. The effort resulted in a donation of 2,893 pounds of food, which equates to 2,411 meals for families served by the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.

Faculty, students and staff left donations in marked boxes around campus, and the EVMS Medical Group challenged each department to a Food Drive Battle to support the effort. In the end, EVMS Dermatology took home the trophy.

For many, giving back felt like the right thing to do as part of the celebration. “I am proud to have the opportunity to participate in community-oriented events such as the food drive,” Azar says. “I hope everyone will join me in giving back during this 50-year anniversary celebration and moving forward into the future.”  

“I’m very proud and humbled by the EVMS Medical Group faculty and staff for supporting the food drive to address the food insecurity needs of our community,” says Po Chou, EVMS Medical Group Chief Executive Officer. “What a fantastic contribution by our EVMS Medical Group family.”

Dr. Abuhamad already is looking forward to the next chapter in EVMS’ history of service.

“We often hear that people are drawn to EVMS because they are passionate about giving back and they know that service is a priority for this institution,” he says. “Thank you to all for beginning our next 50 years with the biggest impact yet.”