The Sharewood Project was started by students of the TUSM class of '99, who began working to establish a free program to serve underserved communities in 1994, during their first year of medical school. They made contacts within Tufts, NEMC, the local government, various social groups and community physicians. They also began the laborious process of writing grants and raising funds. The United Methodist Church of All Nations graciously donated space on its third floor to be used as the project site, and many Tufts alumni and area physicians donated necessary equipment such as exam tables and medical supplies. Finally, after a year and a half of planning and hard work, Sharewood opened its doors on February 18, 1997 under the guidance of Dr. Brian Lisse (Medical Director/Advisor, 1997-2001). Throughout the spring and summer of 1997, Sharewood worked on tailoring its services to the needs of its expanding client population. By August 1998, Sharewood had seen 244 clients with a total of 465 client visits!
In the winter of 2001, the Church of All Nations had fallen into financial difficulty, and could not continue to host Sharewood's location. After an extensive search, and assistance from Dr. Joseph Gravel (Medical Director/Advisor, 2001-2009), it was decided to move the project to the Center United Methodist Church in Malden. On January 15, 2002, with help from the church and the Malden Tri-City Community Action Program, Sharewood successfully completed its move and reopened its doors.
In the fall of 2005, the United Methodist Church in Malden closed, requiring Sharewood to relocate. With a commitment to the Malden community, an important criteria was to stay in Malden. Following another search for a suitable location, the Board of Directors decided to move into St Paul's Parish in Malden, MA. We are grateful to the church and its parishioners who allow us to use the space that we now call home.
The Sharewood Project Today
Sharewood serves approximately 750 clients annually, many of whom do not have health insurance or do not know how to access healthcare services. Sharewood’s goal is to educate its clients about common diseases, screen for some of those diseases, and most importantly, connect them with healthcare resources in their local communities. Clients speak a variety of languages, including English, Mandarin, Spanish, Cantonese, Haitian-Creole, and Portuguese. In 2012-2013, Sharewood established a collaboration with the nonprofit Found in Translation, which provides medical interpreter services to clients who need them.
Over the past few years, many progressive changes have taken place. The project has fully electronic medical records, easily accessible by any of several computers attached to the Sharewood network. Most recently, we have brought women's health services, nutrition counseling, dental and vision care on scheduled evenings in order to better care for the full breadth of client needs.
These examples of progressive changes demonstrate that Sharewood is ultimately as dynamic as its client population and volunteers. As a gateway into the American health care system, it is ever-changing to meet community needs and accomplishes this through the enthusiasm and dedication its volunteers.