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DPT Students Volunteer at Guiding Star Ministries

When your curriculum includes three classes titled “Movement Science,” you know that your academic experience is not going to be confined to desk chairs and lecture halls. But it was something more than just quest for activity that motivated the group of CHPSW Physical Therapy students on a sunny Friday in March as they painted, cleaned, and performed various other repairs at Guiding Star Ministries, Guiding Star, a temporary residence for homeless, unmarried mothers-to-be.

Miriam Brewer, a second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student, was one of the twenty DPT students who came to help out at Guiding Star.  This is her second time there; and though she is involved in other volunteering activities, she enjoys the type of work the group does at Guiding Star because “you see what you did right away – and that makes a difference.”


In just four hours, the students managed to repair exit lights, thirteen windows, and the kitchen exhaust fan; paint the windows as well as a foyer and a bathroom; seal the staircase; and clean the kitchen and the outside yards.

The trip was organized by Stephen Carp, PT, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at CHPSW. Dr. Carp works with Joe Broderick, who volunteers as a maintenance supervisor at Guiding Star, to coordinate work for the students. He has led a total of 17 trips and 128 DPT students to the home over the past four years. In the current economic climate, he explains, organizations like Guiding Star are facing severe cuts to their operating budgets; in fact, the home currently hires only one full-time employee. “Volunteers are paramount to their survival.”

Guiding Star is the only organization of its kind in the Oak Lane section of Philadelphia and is currently home to 18 mothers and 21 children. In addition to housing, the home provides education and professional preparation, helping its residents obtain their GEDs and prepare resumes for future employment. For the students, visiting is an eye-opening experience, and one they are glad to take part in. 

“You see these women who are really making an effort for themselves and their children. It is nice to be able to give back, but also to see their perspective, said Brewer.”