Called to Serve
Fritz Stine is one of those rare and admirable folks who actually lives his convictions.
At another college, maybe somewhere in Northern California, Fritz Stine ’09 would probably be living in a tree.
Stine is a permanent fixture at the CHEC (Cougars Helping Enhance the Community) center – the campus’ student-run volunteer corps. He never misses a Martin Luther King Challenge or a Dash for Trash event on campus, and he’s one of the leaders of the Alliance for Planet Earth student organization. But his main focus is on organizing community service projects that have a real and immediate impact on local issues of homelessness, poverty and access to medical care.
Not long ago he participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Appalachia where he and fellow pre-med students shadowed doctors and assisted patients at a rural free clinic. He also actively raised funds for a summer 2009 trip to Ghana, where he worked with local doctors at urban hospitals and famine-stricken villages.
What keeps Stine hooked on helping out? “Volunteerism helps remind me that I’m not the only person living in this world,” he says, which can be easy to forget inside the bubble of college life. “It’s important to be active in your community because it reminds you that you are part of a community and that we’re all just struggling to get by.”
A couple of years ago, Stine and some friends spent a week living in a makeshift shantytown on campus to draw attention to National Poverty Awareness Week.
“We were living in these shanties made of wood, sleeping on cardboard, and trying to wake up and go to class the next day,” he says. “It quickly became hard to keep up both lifestyles.”
For Stine, it was a powerful lesson of how easy it is for normal, hardworking people to get sucked down by the “inescapable pull of poverty” and how much more we can all do to help people stay off the streets.
Stine’s dream is to finish medical school and open his own free clinic. Or even better, to start a foundation that grants money and medical supplies to impoverished communities so they can build clinics to meet the specific health needs of local residents. Driven by a deep commitment to service he says he inherited from his parents – mom is a longtime Kentucky state senator and dad is a judge – Stine’s dreams have a funny way of becoming reality.