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The University of Alabama

Find Your Passion: Helping Her Hometown

By Drew Wood

(Photo by Sam Hernandez)

(Photo by Sam Hernandez)

A University of Alabama student brings fellowship and health care together with a project she views as inspiration for a healthier Tuscaloosa.

In January 2007, India Williams took part in the UA Blackburn Institute’s Burt Jones Travel Experience to Alexander City. While there, she saw a Christian community struggling to maintain fellowship between churches. Knowing this struggle was not limited to one particular community, Williams says she felt an obligation to bring change to her Tuscaloosa hometown.

Awarded the Daniel Scholar’s Project funding by the Blackburn Institute, Williams developed The Good Shepherd’s Project. Now in its second year, the Good Shepherd’s Project is designed to bring ministers of different faiths together to create a network to help combat ongoing issues in Tuscaloosa.

Currently, the focus for the project is the lack of health care in Tuscaloosa for both the uninsured and the underinsured, Williams says. “One issue that supersedes all is health care. Everyone needs a healthy body.”

A December graduate, Williams initiated a project to bring ministers of different faiths together to focus on unmet needs in her hometown. (Photo by Sam Hernandez)

A December graduate, Williams initiated a project to bring ministers of different faiths together to focus on unmet needs in her hometown.
(Photo by Sam Hernandez)

The Good Samaritan Clinic was chosen as the conduit through which the project functions, as it is the only all-volunteer, faith-based clinic providing free health care in Tuscaloosa, Williams says. The clinic also strives to bring spiritual healing to its patients, making it ideal for the project, she says.

She did her own investigating of the clinic, further rooting her passion to help. “There are really long lines outside of the clinic in the mornings, and a lot of them are children. I could see the pain on their faces.”

As the clinic is all-volunteer, it is open to receive new patients only on Tuesdays, and there are often waiting lines, Williams says. Thursdays are set to serve returning patients, prescriptions, tests and lab work and other follow-up matters. The clinic serves 15 patients per day, and both supplies, and volunteers, can run thin. With the power of a connected, faith-based community, that can change, Williams says. “We need anyone from nursing students to people answering the telephone.”

Williams, a triple major who graduated last month, says she hopes the path of the project will ignite a passion through the community and will help the ministers of Tuscaloosa bring change in other aspects.

Williams said a future project focus will likely be crime control. “Ministers taking back their streets,” she says, “will be what we strive to accomplish.”

It’s important, she says, not to settle for how things are, even when they are acceptable. “If better is possible, then good is simply not enough,” Williams says, adding that she will continue striving for a “better” Tuscaloosa.

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Drew Wood earned her bachelor’s degree from UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences in December. A public relations major, Wood worked with UA’s Office of Media Relations as a student writer during Fall 2008.

This story is part of the Find Your Passion series. To learn more about how you can find your passion at The University of Alabama, please visit UA Undergraduate Admissions.

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