By Vall Vinai


Doctors Without Walls would not be where it is today without its outstanding volunteers. Some of our incredible volunteers have devoted their summertime to helping underserved patient populations. Their optimistic outlook, positive attitude, and volunteerism create the driving force behind the organization. We would like to highlight two extraordinary volunteers of Summer 2017: Melissa Ausanka-Crues and Gabe Revery.

Melissa Ausanka-Crues is a Santa Barbara native. She has been a part of Companion Care for 1.5 years and has been volunteering for Packs and the Women’s Clinic for about one year. Prior to DWW, she was an M.A. and Assistant Manager of a medical office in San Francisco where she learned a lot of technical skills. However, the demographics of the populations she was primarily working included individuals of high socio-economic status.  When she first joined DWW, she was exposed to a completely different patient population. Melissa knew she wanted to be in the Companion Care program as this was the volunteer branch that she believed could teach her the most about compassionate care and how to reach the most vulnerable members of our community. She later expanded her role within the organization to Packs and the Women’s Clinic. She frequently spends her time in the parks and at the Women’s Clinic because she sees that she can make a real difference in people’s lives as an individual and as a part of a team.

Melissa joined Doctors Without Walls to reach her full potential as a nurse. She notes that clinicians often receive little training in school on how to talk to their patients and the result is non-compliance on the part of the patient. It is not unusual for clinicians to be ignorant of community resources and the cost of obtaining healthcare. DWW has educated her about the humanitarian side of medicine. Companion Care has taught her the best ways to approach a reluctant or anxious patient, how to connect with them, and how to earn their trust. In addition to learning how to communicate with patients, Melissa has learned the cooperative nature of healthcare. One person cannot provide all the care needed, especially when working with disadvantaged populations. She values how DWW works as a team to support and inform all members on the best treatment options available. Melissa has gained valuable hands-on knowledge on topics such as comforting a suicidal individual, assisting those with mental illness, and the manner in which increasing access to healthcare makes a positive impact on our community. She notes that her biggest lesson from DWW is that there are large gaps in our healthcare system. People that desperately require care do not always get it due to limited resources or lack of knowledge. Street medicine is necessary to bridge the divide between vulnerable populations and the quality healthcare they deserve.

This Winter, Melissa will start applying to accelerated Bachelor’s programs in Nursing. After earning her license, she hopes to work in ICUs or in the ER. From there, she will decide if she wishes to stay in the hospital or return to primary care. Depending on the decision, she hopes to ultimately pursue her Master’s as a Clinical Nurse Specialist or a DNP to become a Nurse Practitioner. Melissa is a truly extraordinary volunteer who hopes to continue working with underserved communities throughout her life. She values DWW because the organization has fostered in her a lifelong commitment to better people’s lives. Melissa’s lifelong dedication and commitment to serving DWW’s mission makes her a truly exemplary volunteer.


Gabe Revery is a Los Angeles – based 5th year pre-medical student who studies English at UCSB. Gabe will be graduating at the end of the summer. Gabe has been volunteering with Doctors Without Walls for approximately two years. He started out with Companion Care but has cross-trained as a scribe as well. Gabe values Doctors Without Walls’ mission and now fully recognizes that one person can enact great change within their community. Throughout Gabe’s life, individuals have impacted him in a variety of ‘simple’ ways. Gabe appreciates the fact that he can do the same for less fortunate members of his community who lack personal support systems. Since he began volunteering with Doctors Without Walls, he has learned how to listen with both the ear of a healthcare provider and also a friend. He notes that communication underlies our ability to both express ourselves and hear the expressions of others. By improving his ability to listen in a multi-faceted way, Gabe has seen significant improvements in his ability to render care.

 In the future, Gabe hopes to become a physician and ultimately specialize in either general or orthopedic surgery. After graduation, he will pursue an EMT certification and employment as a medical assistant, as well as continuing to expand his duties with DWW.

Melissa Ausanka-Crues and Gabe Revery are outstanding volunteers and have made invaluable contributions to Doctors Without Walls – Santa Barbara Street Medicine. Thank you for all that you do!