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1994-95 Schweitzer Fellow (and current ASF Board Member) Wilfred Mbacham traveled all the way from Cameroon for the 3rd Annual Fellows for Life Conference Weekend.

2008-09 Schweitzer Fellow Alissa Curda, now a busy third-year medical student at Dartmouth, managed to make the trek to Chicago, attend the conference, and participate in the Sunday service day — despite having to be back at the hospital at 8 a.m. on Monday morning.

Mbacham and Curda are just two of the 160+ Schweitzer Fellows for Life who came from all across the country, and the world, to attend the 3rd Annual Schweitzer Fellows for Life Conference Weekend in Chicago (Oct 17-18, 2009).

From Dr. Robert Lawrence (filling in for plenary speaker Dr. Jack Geiger, who was unable to participate due to a last-minute health emergency) to Dr. Quentin Young to Dr. Jimmy Hara, Fellows for Life had the chance to interact with prominent health leaders — and, just as valuably, each other.

Twelve breakout sessions (10 of which were led by Fellows for Life) tackled everything from the controversy over pay-for-performance, to the health crisis in post-Katrina New Orleans, to the role integrative medicine can play in health care for the underserved.

Towards the end of the day, ASF premiered “I Don’t Have to Stop Here,” a powerful new video (filmed at the previous year’s Fellows for Life Conference) encapsulating the Fellows for Life experience.

On the heels of a Saturday jam-packed with motivating plenary speakers, illuminating and inspiring breakout sessions, and valuable networking time, Mbacham, Curda, and their peers had the chance to spend Sunday serving the local community at the first-ever FFL Conference Service Day (organized by the 2009-10 class of Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows).

On Saturday, in addition to bags upon bags of business attire and winter coats, Conference attendees collected hundreds of toiletry items for clients of StreetWise, an organization that empowers severely impoverished men and women to make their way out of poverty. On Sunday, a group of attendees brought those donations to Streetwise, where they also organized and displayed the donations, prepared a buffet style lunch for approximately 60 people, and completed repair-and-build projects (including replacing small bathroom countertops).

Simultaneously, another group of Fellows for Life traveled to Skokie Lagoons, part of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. They worked with Forest Stewards and FPDCC Staff to cut invasive plants and shrubs, as well as contribute to litter cleanup.

Fellows for Life in attendance at the 3rd Annual Fellows for Life Conference reaffirmed their commitment to meeting the health needs of underserved communities and emerged inspired and energized.

Stay tuned for in-depth Conference coverage on Beyond Boulders in the coming days!

The 3rd Annual Fellows for Life Conference was made possible by the generous support of our Conference sponsors.