It always feels good to come across good work being done by good people in the community. I appreciate the chance to share how a San Diego group is assisting the ill, especially ill children and their families that need help during a medical crisis.
Please read as it appeared in the Guam PDN on February 9th 2014.
The newest Chamorro group to form in San Diego is known as the CNMI San Diego Club established in November 2013 to help CNMI citizens in the area, especially those who have come as medical referrals.
Although the group can only identify about 200 CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) citizens in the San Diego area, they attract membership from as far away as Los Angeles, a two-hour drive away, and gathered a group of 30 at their last membership meeting. The Club officers are David Atalig, president, Frank Norita, vice president, Shirley Lababit, secretary, and Susana Cabrera, treasurer. Ken Conception is the club’s public relations officer, and spoke with me about their mission.
“We have been seeing a huge number of medical referrals, especially our children, that were being referred from the CNMI due to heart problems and other problems… being referred to Rady Children’s Hospital or Ronald McDonald House,” Ken told me. Rady Children’s Hospital is a renowned area medical facility for children.
Ken explained that when a child is referred to Rady Children’s Hospital, they and one parent or guardian are provided air transportation along with an accompanying nurse. An ambulance is available to take the child and one parent of guardian from the San Diego airport to the medical facility. Fortunately, Rady has so far been able to house the referrals at their adjacent Ronald McDonald House residence for families. Insurance or Medicare often covers the medical costs. However, accompanying family members, often here for an extended time, must provide for themselves.
“When we found out that these people, these children, that were being sent from the CNMI out here were just being medical referred and a lot of them didn’t have any mode of transportation; didn’t have any mode of going anywhere, even to buy food…” said Ken. “A couple of these families were requesting on Facebook for donations to buy things such as laundry soap, daily hygiene needs… We found out, they weren’t given a stipend. And we decided to form this organization.”
There are now four children and their families at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Over the Christmas holidays, there were as many as seven families. Currently, the CNMI San Diego Club has someone standing by to provide transportation, whether it is to and from the airport, or to buy groceries. Expenses are paid out of club members’ own pockets.
The club is currently pursuing non-profit status so that they can qualify for grant money to provide services. They have also received an offer of assistance from the Cal Islanders Humanitarian Association aka CIHA, which has been doing similar work in Orange County, just north of San Diego.
And their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Thanks and praises have come from the CNMI, including an official letter from the CNMI lieutenant governor.
Says Ken Conception of the CNMI San Diego Club, “We’re available to everyone from the CNMI that is being sent out here.” Donations are gladly accepted, and money as well as things like laundry soap and daily hygiene supplies are helpful. New members are also welcome. You can call Ken Conception, the CNMI San Diego Public Relations Officer at 619 823-9059 or email him at LANCHERU@HOTMAIL.COM.