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UCLA Magazine Fall 2003
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Fall 2003
City Of Angels
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(Top) Rashes and skin ailments are among the most common complaints addressed by volunteer students in the UCLA Mobile Clinic Project. (Bottom) Volunteers take time out for a breather between talking with clients.

Once more, Coppenrath went looking for him, finding him broken down on a bus bench near Hollywood and Vine. "Walt,” Tiny said to him, "I’m an old fool. I’m too damn sick to be out here on the street. I don’t want this anymore. Can you help me?”

Today, two-and-a-half years later, Tiny is 54 and proudly clean, living in a skilled-nursing board-and-care facility near downtown Los Angeles, and he regularly is invited to speak about his life on the streets to students who are preparing for their volunteer work with the clinic.

Why, Coppenrath is asked, was a young medical student with a harried schedule and lots more going on in his life, determined to offer so much of himself to someone as stubbornly self-destructive as Tiny?

"I realized that sometimes clinical doesn’t always mean putting someone in a hospital,” Coppenrath says. "Sometimes it means just sitting on a bus bench listening and waiting for the moment when someone is ready for change.”

David Greenwald is editor of UCLA Magazine.


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