As we recently held a socially distanced version of our SOS First In Family College Readiness Program, we were delighted to support a number of new high school grads who are the first in their families to be heading to college. We asked participants to submit their personal stories as applications for potential scholarships that were generously provided by an SOS donor. Here is one such story.
“For as long as I can remember, my mom has always stressed the importance of education and how it will take me far in life. Unable to afford an education at a young age, my mother was forced to give up on the idea of receiving further education. As an immigrant from Vietnam, my mom would sometimes tell me how willing she is to attend a school and study, but unfortunately, she is incapable of doing so. Busy from morning till evening, with only one day off and running a family to the best of her abilities, work steals her time. Both my immigrant parents came to America with the thought of starting anew and renewing their hope, but were unfortunately left to have low-paying jobs and little to no new opportunities. Because my parents are living with little chances to improve their life, I want to be the person to improve their lives and my own life.
Along with my mom, who is my number one supporter, my teachers, counselor, mentors, and other important figures in my life have expressed to me that I’ll go on to accomplish great things in the future. I used to doubt my achievements and viewed them as the results of actions that I simply took to satisfy my own needs. But then, I began to realize that I do have great potential and I want to continue proving their statements right. Constantly on the outlook for improvements and investing my time and efforts for a better future, I motivate myself by reminding myself how I already have more than enough and that countless opportunities are out there waiting for me.
Upon entering college, I plan to major in Business Administration with hopes of entering into the financial management field. To get anywhere near my goals and dreams, attending college would naturally be my next step. All of this used to seem distant and out of reach, but through endless support and my undying desire to succeed, college is now more close than ever and I want to make the best of it. Inching toward a better future, I want to prove to myself and those around me that you can go far, no matter where you begin. And so, fueled by passion and purpose, I will make my goals become my achievements.”Read More
HOW DO YOU FIGHT THE FATIGUE that is setting in during this pandemic? Your exhaustion is warranted. Your frustration is justified. Challenges we had imagined to be temporary are existing far longer than any of us expected. We are facing record unemployment, inequity in access to stabilizing resources, and millions without a safety net are becoming increasingly more vulnerable. This was not how any of us saw 2020 going.
While everything feels overwhelming, we must be reminded of the small steps and actions that we each can make to confront our exhaustion and lead to change. As we work the front lines battling COVID-19, we can assure you, at many times it has been a trying and taxing environment. But at the same time, the increasing need to improve and expand COVID testing in Orange County while ensuring we are still able to serve our patients in a safe and healthy environment has been our core motivation over the past few months.
So what is the key ingredient? Resiliency. Willful and intentional. For 50 years, Share Our Selves (SOS) has diligently served Orange County’s most vulnerable. Throughout our history, our mission has remained steadfast. But our history, as well as our future, is tethered to the collective engagement of our community. We’ve seen the momentum and results that come from passionate people coming together.
There might not be a more crucial time than now to consider how we work together to tackle the pressing issues we are facing. The unemployment rate in Orange County was at 13.9% in June, up from 2.9% at that same time last year. According to Share Our Selves CEO, Christy Ward, “The needs in our community are growing as we see an increase in unemployment and increasing numbers for not only our direct healthcare services, but in the number of families who have come to our food pantry.”
Our current environment requires something unique. To catalyze this moment, we have launched our RESTORE OC Movement. Our goal is to create opportunities for individuals, local businesses, students, political leaders, corporate partners, friends and families to play an active role in the restoration of Orange County. Everyone is capable of making a difference, but many feel disconnected from the avenues to do so. This inclusive initiative is intended to provide the education, tools, opportunities, and resources that empower people to make a tangible impact on the lives of those most affected by COVID-19.
- VOLUNTEER: As individuals or groups, we want to plug you in with opportunities to volunteer in a safe, low-COVID environment.
- ENGAGE: Follow us on social media and read our blog updates! We’ve also adopted digital tools that promote peer-to-peer fundraising. You are able to creatively engage your family, peers, and co-workers in fun ways to increase awareness, education, and funding.
- GIVE: For those who have the capacity to give financially during these trying times, your support is critical. Your generosity is an investment in vital and services in your community that results in a direct impact.
So how do we combat fatigue during this pandemic? Resiliency. Hope. Action. We admit, this is not necessarily easy. You have to acknowledge the realities of our community and determine if change is worth fighting for. You have to part ways with cynicism and embrace the possibility that systemic change is possible. You have to believe that you are capable of more than you imagine. You have to be willing to take that first step. For over 50 years, we have believed in the power of transformative change. Being part of the solution allows for self-transformation while we collectively provide access to resources and care. Together, we can RESTORE OC.Read More
Whether learning remotely or in a classroom, children must be equipped with the tools necessary to actively engage in learning. To that end, we were determined to ensure our annual SOS Back To School program would be able to exist this year.
On Saturday, August 15th, a handful of SOS staff and volunteers held our first-ever socially distanced Back To School Backpack Distribution. Rather than having parents and students line up to receive their backpacks, we created a drive-thru pick up line with SOS staff and leadership delivering backpacks full of essential school supplies directly into the trunks of family vehicles Altogether, we were able to provide 455 children backpacks.
Our volunteers were joined by Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris who had been assisting the program for a few weeks leading up to the backpack distribution to ensure sufficient supplies were gathered and backpacks were assembled.
We could not be more grateful for our community supporters for making this important annual event possible. In addition to Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris, we could not have done this without the amazing support from Tilly’s, Marriott Southwest Sales, St. Christopher, Mater Dei, and our amazing donors. The collaborative efforts of our community made it a true success!Read More
Local leaders stand with SOS in bettering community access to care
On August 10, the focus of National Health Center Week was “Health Care for the Homeless Day”. It was most fitting that we celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new SOS Health Mobile Unit. As part of the celebration, SOS was accompanied by Congressman Harley Rouda, Costa Mesa City Mayor, Katrina Foley, and Liz McNabb from Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris’ office.
This mobile health center is initially providing medical and behavioral health services at several homeless shelters in Orange County. As one of 295 health centers across the nation that is a designated Health Care for the Homeless organization, we know that individuals that are homeless disproportionately experience poor health outcomes, higher incidents of mental health challenges, and higher mortality rates. SOS’ goal by bringing care to where homeless individuals are sheltered is to improve their overall health, and in partnership, work with other agencies to ultimately end homelessness.
The ceremony was an opportunity to share in the collaborative effort between organizations like SOS and local leaders who share in the mission of SOS. “When you think about health, you need to think outside of the four walls of a clinic,” states SOS Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jay W. Lee. “For some, you can help with a prescription pad, but for many, you need to partner with community leaders for solutions.”
Those in attendance had the honor of hearing from our elected officials. “Community providers like Share Our Selves are on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis, working 24/7 to keep Orange County healthy,” said Congressman Rouda. “Their new mobile unit is an incredible step to ensure OC’s most vulnerable can access health services during COVID-19 and beyond.”
After the ribbon-cutting, representatives joined SOS Social Services staff and volunteers in the SOS Food Pantry to assist in the packing of bags for the day. Share Our Selves CEO, Christy Ward, expressed her gratitude for their participation. “We know that our elected officials are all incredibly busy with all of the work that they are doing to support our communities and the individuals that live and work in them, and we were grateful for their participation and support of the opening of this new mobile clinic.”Read More
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 18, 2020
Dr. Edwin K. Kwon joins Share Our Selves (SOS) as Medical Director Community Health Center Costa Mesa, Main Campus site
“Dr. Kwon brings with him deep experience working with vulnerable populations. Coupled with his affable nature and obvious love for humanity, I am confident he will be an outstanding addition to our leadership team and I look forward to the impact he will make for our patients and the Costa Mesa community,” comments Dr. Jay W. Lee, Chief Medical Officer at Share Our Selves.
Dr. Kwon arrives to Share Our Selves from Portland Oregon. His previous experiences include serving as Vice President of Clinical Operations and Strategy and Medical Director at CRM Physicians, Family Medicine Physician at Riverside Medical Clinic, and at Heal. Dr. Kwon received his MD from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, and an MBA from the University of California, Irvine School of Business. He is board-certified in Family Medicine and completed his post-graduate training at UCLA Family Medicine Residency Program. He is an active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, Oregon Medical Association, and AMDA: The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.
“I am most excited about joining an incredible team at SOS. I am humbled by the countless team members who have dedicated their lives to serving their neighbors for decades—they are the warm heart and soul of this organization.” Dr. Kwon shares, “My hope is to follow their example and amplify our collective efforts to serve our community.”
For media inquiries, contact Imelda Buncab, Community Engagement Manager email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 949-270-2188.
For more information about Share Our Selves, visit www.shareourselves.org.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 7, 2020
Share Our Selves to Launch National Health Center Week 2020
Congressman Harley Rouda and City of Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley joins Share Our Selves to recognize and celebrate the important work of local health centers
Costa Mesa, CA – August 9th to 15th, 2020 is National Health Center Week (NHCW), an annual celebration with the goal of raising awareness about the mission and accomplishments of community health centers across the nation. Share Our Selves will launch the week with the Share Our Selves Community Health Mobile Unit ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour. Congressman Harley Rouda and City of Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley will join the celebration to recognize community health centers.
In 2019, community health centers served over 29 million patients, improving health and advancing health equity in the United States. In the same year, Share Our Selves served 15,241 patients that live and work in Orange County.
Share Our Selves has been serving the Orange County community for 50 years providing care and assistance to those in need and act as advocates for systemic change.
“During these very challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic that we are living in, now more than ever, it is critical for community health centers, like Share Our Selves, to be doing everything we can in the community to provide needed and critical services to individuals that are in need of direct health services as well as access to food, financial or other types of critical resources,” according to Christy Ward, CEO of Share Our Selves. “This is what our organization has focused on for the last 50 years, and what we will continue to focus on in the coming 50 years plus. National Health Center Week is a wonderful time to celebrate our work, as well as thank our patients, community partners, donors, and staff, particularly during this year as we celebrate our 50-year milestone.”
For more information on Share Our Selves National Health Center Week launch event and media inquiries, contact Imelda Buncab, Community Engagement Manager. Email: email@example.com. Phone: 949-270-2188.
For more information about Share Our Selves, please visit www.shareourselves.org.