Compassionate volunteers help hundreds get healthy

Discover why this diverse group comes together for a day to improve the health of those who are struggling in this economy – and to care for their pets as well …

Nanette Curtis and Sam Adelman, interns at Pacific Optometry, confer while doing an eye examination at Compassion Southeast.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
For the third year in a row, underprivileged local folks without access to healthcare found willing volunteers at a one-day event, which turned Lane Middle School in Southeast Portland into a fully-equipped medical clinic on June 26.

“We are providing medical services, including healthcare screenings,” said organizer Clark Blakeman, the chairperson of Compassion Southeast. “Our medical professionals are also doing minor procedures here, and at nearby clinics. This is one of nine clinics we’ll be providing, across the city, this year.”

Clark Blakeman, chair of Compassion Southeast, says volunteers offer to help, inspired by their faith.

In addition to the general health checkups, Blakeman said that the participating healthcare professionals were looking at a variety of medical issues, including those dealing with vision, chiropractic, dental, and physical therapy. “And, we have many social service agencies to help people connect with other services.”

It takes a lot of effort to hold such an event, Blakeman added, observing that more than 250 volunteers worked checking people in, and ushering clients among medical stations. “In addition to working with Compassion Connect, I also direct an organization called Second Stories. We collaborate to put on the event, with the help of many churches and social service agencies.”

Kanchana Chanhurai is getting physical therapy from Carlos Miranda, PT, of Miranda Physical Therapy. “I feel I have the professional, moral, and ethical responsibility to give back to my community,” he says.

The organization is able to get such a large volunteer turnout, Blakeman told us/THE BEE, because those who offer these services know that many people are struggling in the current economy.

“Oftentimes, when people are pinching pennies, they neglect their teeth and other medical issues because they don’t have medical insurance. Sometimes actions speak louder than words; we do this to tangibly display our love of Jesus.”

The clinic that ran throughout the day saw more than 600 folks – and examined their pets as well. “It’s mostly dogs,” Blakeman said; “They come to our pet vaccination clinic and pet care. And, we’re also giving away a free meal to everyone who comes. We’re doing all we can here to make peoples’ money extend a little further, and ease some of the pain from the bad economy.”

Paul Warde waits for a veterinarian to examine his buddy, Diamond, accompanied by event volunteer TJ Browning.

Gwendolyn Banks, a client who was waiting for vision screening, said she was concerned about her eyes. “This is important to me, because right now, when you don’t have the funds to get the medical attention that you need, something like this is very worrying. My eyes are bothering me, and my health is going bad.  This is a really good thing they’re doing for the community.”

Banks stopped us and added, “One more thing: these are wonderful people. They’re taking good care of me. I’m so thankful for this.”

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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