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Arts and Letters Alumnus Wins Prestigious Award for Work With Homeless

Author: Megan Zagger

Dr. James O'Connell

James O’Connell, M.D., a 1970 University of Notre Dame graduate and founder and president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, was recently awarded the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism.

Presented by The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, this prestigious award recognizes O’Connell for his advocacy and direct service to people experiencing homelessness. The Schweitzer Prize is given to an individual whose life example has significantly improved the health of people in the United States or abroad, and whose commitment to service influences and inspires others.

The Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program serves more than 11,000 homeless people each year in two hospital-based clinics and more than 80 shelters and outreach sites in Boston. In addition to serving as president of the program, O’Connell spends much of his time directly caring for Boston’s homeless population on the street and in one of the program’s clinics.

Past Schweitzer Prize honorees include Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, community health center pioneer Jack Geiger, and Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.

O’Connell graduated maxima cum laude from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters and went on to earn a master’s degree in philosophy and theology from the University of Cambridge and his medical degree at Harvard Medical School.

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