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VIDEO: PA doctor dresses as homeless man to treat 'street people'

A new video from NationSwell—"a new digital media company focused on high-quality stories about American renewal"—is making the rounds on Reddit and social media sites, sharing the story of Dr. Jim Withers, a Pittsburgh area man who has been offering medical treatment to homeless people for more than two decades.

A new video from NationSwell—"a new digital media company focused on high-quality stories about American renewal"—is making the rounds on Reddit and social media sites, sharing the story of Dr. Jim Withers, a Pittsburgh area man who has been offering medical treatment to homeless people for more than two decades.

Dr. Withers first started treating "street people" in 1992 with the help of some formerly homeless individuals. He read up on how to connect with people on the street and dressed as though he were homeless in an effort to be more accepted by the people he encountered.

For more than 20 years, now, Withers has been helping approximately 1,200 homeless individuals a year while his Operation Safety Net program has helped hundreds of homeless folks find housing and enlisted the help of scores of volunteers through donations of time household items.

Withers says Operation Safety Net case managers may be able to help with that goal, too. Sitting in his office the next morning beneath a framed photo of Mother Teresa, Withers notes that Operation Safety Net, the group he founded in 1993 with a $50,000 startup grant from the Sisters of Mercy, does more these days than fund street medicine and operate homeless shelters. [Pittsburgh magazine]

To learn more about Dr. Withers and Operation Safety Net, check out the program's website here or read Pittsburgh magazine's extensive 2009 profile of Dr. Withers and his work. [NationSwell]

Click here to watch the video.

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