Earlier this summer, Daniel Strauss, DC, dean of National University’s College of Professional Studies-Florida awarded three student scholarships as part of the Pinellas Park Medical District (PPMD) coalition. The awards are based on merit, accomplishment, and the community-minded efforts of the students.
Dr. Strauss developed this scholarship program in 2016 in partnership with the Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber) to support health care scholars within the local community.
Yet this is just one among many of his community initiatives. Read on to learn more about what inspires one of National University’s exemplary leaders and role models.
Personal experience has shaped Dr. Strauss’ community spirit in some very impactful ways. “Growing up in a family of 62 children over the years–54 of them foster children–was truly an incredible experience. It has undoubtedly made me the person I am today,” he said.
With so many children in the house at a given time, he recalled it was a great test of patience, sacrifice, and compromise, yet it taught all of them the importance of helping and loving one another.
There were children in the house from many different backgrounds, some of whom had developmental or physical disabilities. “We all made sure that nobody felt different. Living in a very small home and not having much money has inspired me to be involved in community service projects that help individuals in need,” Dr. Strauss continued.
“A true story about my childhood is that many of us didn’t have school backpacks, so we had to use plastic shopping bags to carry our books and school supplies-which for a child is quite embarrassing.”
However, this memory inspired him to champion the PPMD Back-to-School Backpack Drive, with 2018 marking the third year of the event.
The program has been a huge success. As PPMD chairman, Dr. Strauss set the first-year goal at 250 backpacks-and the community exceeded it. Last year, a goal of 400 backpacks was set, and again expectations were exceeded. “This year I set a goal of 1,000 backpacks–and we raised 1,088 backpacks full of school supplies!” he said, smiling.
Dr. Strauss said what he finds most compelling about community service is the tremendous impact individuals can have on other people’s lives, oftentimes without even knowing it. “Staying focused on maintaining and developing sustainable community service initiatives is the key to making sure that our own busy lives don’t interfere with the bigger picture of helping others in need.”
When it comes to getting things done, he recognizes the importance of communications and inclusion to build strong, positive relationships.
One of his goals as president of the Chamber is to bridge the gaps among many local chambers of commerce for the greater success of all. “We’ve been working closely with surrounding chambers and Kiwanis Clubs to improve communications about upcoming events in our local communities. I believe this has contributed significantly to the record turnouts at our recent events.”
When Dr. Strauss took office as president, another of his goals was to develop new and recurring annual events to grow the organization. The Chamber is also in the midst of a rebranding campaign, including a logo re-design and website changes to improve member accessibility. “These are some important new avenues for members to promote their businesses,” he said.
While finding work-life balance can be a challenge, Dr. Strauss has great advice for recent and soon-to-be graduates launching their careers: GET INVOLVED! “There are countless not-for-profits out there looking for volunteers–graduates should choose an organization where they have an interest.”
“When you have a connection to something, your passion is evident and you are able to accomplish great things! My door is always open for graduates to contact me if they need advice, or help in finding a place to get involved.”
“When people get involved, it not only provides a great service to the community or individuals in need, it also helps them communicate their presence, whether they are looking to start a practice or grow an existing one,” he said.
In addition to his role at National University, Dr. Strauss also supports and serves Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA), Vincent House and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Pinellas Park/Gateway Chamber of Commerce, and the Pinellas Park Medical District.