Group photo with volunteers Together with CHOP, David Kleiman, MD, and his son Sam partnered with iSTEM members to show children at St. Barnabas Mission fun science opportunities. When the son of CHOP Care Network physician Dave Kleiman, MD, wanted to make a difference in the community, he contacted CHOP’s Homeless Health Initiative (HHI).

“My son, Sam, wanted to introduce children in Philadelphia shelters to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities as part of his bar mitzvah project,” says Kleiman. “I’ve been a medical volunteer for the CHOP Homeless Health Initiative over the past 20-plus years, so when social work trainer Melissa Johnson told me about the iSTEM Employee Resource Group visiting the shelters, we decided to connect everyone.”

With CHOP’s backing, Sam was able to get sizable donations of STEM-related books and science kits from several organizations for kids in HHI shelters. He even worked with the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Zoo and the Delaware Museum of Natural History to bring traveling science programs to the shelters.

“Melissa Johnson has been amazing at making all of this happen,” says Kleiman. “The Zoo came out in July, and I heard it was a hit! The other traveling visits are being arranged. Longwood Gardens and Tyler Arboretum each donated dozens of tickets for the families to visit their sites.”

For Kleiman, the highlight of this partnership was when he and Sam visited a shelter with the iSTEM group. The iSTEM volunteers were very inviting and made Sam feel like part of the team as he helped teach the STEM project to the kids.

“Without the reputation of CHOP, the dedication of the HHI and the inclusiveness of the iSTEM team to a well-meaning boy (now a ‘man’), none of this could have happened,” says Kleiman. “I am hopeful that the positive impression this experience has had on Sam will lead him to a future of ongoing empathy and volunteerism.”