By Yvette Ramirez Ammerman
While in California last week, I met a woman who exemplifies the commitment we at Community Health Centers have to the people we serve. Her name is Armida Aguiniga, and she runs the Homeless program at Central City Community Health Center in South Central Los Angeles. Sitting in their mobile health clinic, Armida speaks movingly of how, through providing basic necessities, she was able to gain the trust of homeless individuals living in an abandoned warehouse near the clinic.
Armida talks about the people she serves, “They’re so sick; there’s diabetics, patients with high blood pressure, people with TB. They’ll say, I don’t know what’s wrong with me and when we draw their blood and when we start giving them their meds [medications] … they are just so thankful, they tell everyone about us.”
She recounts how the homeless go out every night and pick up cans and bottles to earn the recycling fee. She says, “…they’ll do anything—just to survive.” Armida talks about the life-changing impact of a contract their clinic has with the UCLA School of Dentistry, “Some of them have no teeth or they are broken.” Once their teeth are repaired, she says, it gives them the confidence to go out and look for jobs. It changes the course of their lives.
At the end of the interview, Armida concludes by saying, “It’s beautiful, I am so glad that I am healthy enough to go out there, so glad that I have the opportunity to help our people.”
Watch a video clip from my interview with Armida Aguiniga.
Photo from left: Yvette Ramirez Ammerman, Gloria Lina, Armida Aguiniga, Arturo Mendoza