Student to receive the Crisis Hero Award

November 09, 2021

Photo of Megan Leubner in a medical setting

Quinnipiac medical student, Megan Leubner, has been selected to receive the Crisis Hero Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Leubner, who is entering her third year at Quinnipiac’s Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, is being honored for her dedication to organizing volunteers and donations for New Haven’s Columbus House during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Columbus House, and all shelters in Connecticut, were ordered to close due to the public health threat posed by living in close quarters. As a result, hundreds of people were rapidly housed in vacant apartments without basic supplies. Simultaneously, online and in-person retailers ran out of most household items. Seeing the bind Columbus House was in, Leubner initiated the collection, sorting and distribution of over 6,400 household items for these new homes.

“I was very fortunate to be nominated by Columbus House for this award because of the volunteer work and community organizing I did back when the pandemic started,” said Leubner. “Columbus House's volunteer base and staff were required to quarantine and many state services were also shut down. However, boots on the ground were still needed. My involvement with this project is what ultimately inspired my research project on health needs for individuals experiencing homelessness in New Haven.”

Leubner will be recognized at the Connecticut National Philanthropy Day awards ceremony on Friday, November 12, at Vazzano's Four Season in Stratford.

“Megan's energy combined with her passion to work with persons experiencing homelessness has been ongoing since the start of the pandemic, and I know she will be an ongoing supporter as a future medical professional,” said Tracy Van Oss, a clinical professor of occupational therapy who served as Leubner’s project mentor.

Leubner said she found the outpouring of community support to be a shining light in an otherwise dark and sad time.

"I was moved to see so many people go out of their way to help. The generosity of the community gave me a lot of hope that we could get through this by taking care of one another," said Leubner.

Her involvement in the COVID-19 pandemic response was the inspiration for her ongoing research project “Health Needs Assessment of Unhoused and Marginally Housed People in New Haven, Connecticut, During the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Working closely with numerous nonprofits that work with individuals experiencing homelessness, Leubner conducted interviews about health needs with unhoused and marginally housed community members with the goal of identifying specific barriers to health and well-being.

"I hope my capstone project will provide robust insight and practical solutions to these obstacles. Simply put, I want to help solve societal problems that get in the way of healthy, happy lives,” said Leubner. 

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