While volunteering at an Indian orphanage in 1984, Dr. David Buck found his passion for helping those most in need during an encounter with the greatest humanitarian in human history — Mother Teresa. That unforgettable experience put him on a decades-long path to reshaping how communities care for the underserved.
“Mother Teresa asked us ‘Who among you wants to change the world?'” recalled Buck. “Internally I was screaming ‘Me, I do!'”
But Buck, now a professor and associate dean for community health at the University of Houston Tilman J. Fertitta Family College of Medicine, didn’t raise his hand.
“She said ‘For all of you who want to do that, there’s the door. Our task is much greater. Our task is to love one person at a time,'” he said. “So, I came back to the U.S. and knew I wanted to make a difference here at home.”
Buck recently reflected on his nearly 40 years of tackling the homelessness epidemic, repairing a fragmented aid industry, and challenging the status quo in medicine in a first-person account published in the Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness.
Early in his career, just after returning from that life-changing experience with Mother Teresa, Buck volunteered with Houston Catholic Worker House where he learned the biggest problem facing the homeless was access to health care. Not long after, he established two free health clinics and a dental clinic, but soon realized the root problem wasn’t just access. Instead, it was a lack of integration of all the services they needed.
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