When I was five years old, I visited the California Pediatrics (free) Clinic in downtown Los Angeles in advance of a cross-country move my mother and I were about to take from California to Maryland. Even though I possessed a relatively healthy disposition, visits to this clinic were frequent enough throughout my childhood that I could anticipate what to expect: we would spend up to two hours waiting to be seen by a doctor, which would give me ample time to play with the indoor play structure, beat my best time on a marble puzzle game, and catch an episode or two of Sesame Street. Our trip to the clinic meant we had to dedicate more than half a day commuting downtown, waiting to be seen by a doctor, receiving treatment from clinical staff and health practitioners. The ordeal became longer in the event a prescription needed to be filled or my care required special treatment. Despite all this, growing up I was never fully cognizant of the societal ramifications that framed my visits, and the visits of thousands of children and families that relied on the Pediatrics Free Clinic for primary care.
Throughout my life, as I have risen through higher levels of education, I began unpacking the dimensions of societal structures that influenced and shaped my life. Taking advantage of the healthcare services at the California Pediatrics (free) Clinic was one of them; benefiting from the Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) Food and Nutrition Service was another. It wasn’t until later in life that I began to recognize the different elements, including community based organizations, non-profit institutions, and government services, that I came in contact with that helped me prosper and achieve my greatest potential in lieu of my low-income background. These trips to the clinic, my family’s use of food vouchers, and our frequent moves (totaling 7 by the age of 18) were normalized for me. I would come to realize that this was the reality for millions of others living in poverty, and I was fortunate to have had the resources available to me to help me thrive.
Now, as a UC Berkeley graduate and Fellow in Public Affairs with Coro Northern California, I seek new opportunities to uncover the systemic inequalities in society, as well as discover new and comprehensive solutions for helping our most vulnerable and marginalized populations stuck and returning to the cycle of poverty. Through my connection with Rise Together, I hope to continue filling my own gaps in knowledge, highlight the great work being done by Rise Together, it’s partners and stakeholders, and become a driving force to inspire others to help address the issues and consequences associated with poverty. I welcome you to join this journey.