Green Spaces for Healthier Hearts
“THANK YOU for all that UMMA has done for us”.
These words were shared with me at the clinic by two new parents who had just come for their newborns first visit. Their happiness and joy about what the future holds for their child was palpable, and I was so heartened to know that we could be there for this family and many families like them who deserve high quality health care.
One of the many things that I’ve learned in my five years at UMMA is that it truly takes a healthcare village to help empower our patients, from our front line staff, to our dedicated providers, to our administrative support staff, and supporters like you. Thank you to all who reached out to their representatives over the past five months regarding funding Community Health Centers such as UMMA. Together we rode the vicissitudes of month to month funding extensions and rose our voices about the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), about our dreamers, and our shared dream of having healthcare be accessible to all.
With Congress’ passing of $7.8 billion in federal grants to fund Community Health Centers, the victory is bittersweet. While we’re relieved that the 1400 health centers across the country and the 27 million patients we collectively serve will continue to receive some federal assistance for the next two years, the path forward for DACA and the dreamers who call America home is still unclear. Too many South Los Angeles residents are brimming with anxiety for the future, but we are more hopeful than ever that we can alleviate those anxieties as we continue the fight for patient rights and improved health outcomes.
UMMA has been strategically expanding our services, sites, and programming to get to the heart of what’s causing the health outcomes we’re seeing – high rates of hypertension, obesity and diabetes, and increased addictions to opioids. In coordination with our community partners, we’re tackling these issues from a variety of angles.
In April of 2012, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, and UMMA first broke ground on an unused lot nestled in the back corner of Fremont High School’s campus. Our collective vision was to increase accessibility to safe green space, to provide a one-stop shop for high-quality, culturally-sensitive and affordable healthcare services, and to make fresh fruit and vegetables accessible. In doing so, we sought to improve health outcomes and empower people of all ages through a healthier, safer and stronger community.
This past Valentine’s Day, we entered the next phase of our vision by participating in the opening ceremony of a state-of-the-art greenhouse on the Fremont Wellness Center and Community Garden site.
It’s the first greenhouse of its kind in an urban, underserved area.
Community organizations, students, and local residents came together to show their love for the health of South Los Angeles’ residents for the ribbon cutting and received free fresh fruits and vegetables at our free biweekly farmers market, which were provided compliments of our community partner, Food Forward – LA.
As this site continues to grow and as UMMA increases its range of health services, we strive to make a holistic vision of health tangible for South LA. In 2017 alone, we provided comprehensive physical and behavioral health services to over 7000 local residents.
In addition to our mission in health, we share a vision of education. Together, the community garden, Fremont Wellness Center and now the Greenhouse provide an avenue for learning how to lead healthier lifestyles.
The Fremont Wellness Center, Community Garden and Greenhouse’s site is a unique model of what urban health can become, and in my first month at UMMA’s helm as CEO, I’m hopeful about increasing our impact with your continued support. Thank you.
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