By Kimberly Luste Maran
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Willie Rollins, Afrodyete, and Lee Anne Selleck are three of the 10,000 patients treated during the April 27-29 Your Best Pathway to Health Los Angeles (YBPHLA) mega clinic at the Los Angeles Convention Center. They came for different reasons, and each received different treatment. But overjoyed with the assistance they received, they also shared a commonality — each was eager to tell their story.
Help on a Personal Level
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Willie Rollins waits in the barber shop line at the Pathway to Health LA mega clinic.
A California native currently living in Compton, 55-year-old Willie Rollins heard about YBPHLA the Friday before the event from a friend. Willie spent two days at the clinic. “I really love the services here. They helped us mentally, physically, and spiritually,” he says. “I love the hospitality, and how they worked with us in a personal way.” He describes being escorted by cheerful volunteers to each designated area, and even to the restroom. Willie, a leader in a new non-denominational church that holds services on Saturday, was impressed with the “wonderful smiles” of the medical volunteers. “If I can speak on behalf of the city of Los Angeles, as an ambassador, I say ‘thank you.’ You really helped our city.”
On Willie’s first day at the clinic, he came to check his physical and mental health, and get a new pair of reading glasses. And even though he’d been told the services would be free, he was astonished that he not only was able to get the bifocals he needed at no cost to him, he also received a brand new suit, three new shirts, and a new pair of tennis shoes at the clinic’s clothing area. The mental health zone was the arthritis sufferer’s next stop. “I deal with depression, because of some physical pain that I have, so I went over and they really helped—and on a personal level,” Willie shares. “They even prayed with me.”
Willie adds, “I loved it so much that I decided to come back a second day.” During his second visit, Willie received information on a needed colonoscopy. He also got his hair cut at the clinic’s barber shop. “You can see how handsome I look today, thanks to Pathway to Health,” he says.
Although finished for the day, Willie lingered. He was eager to talk about his experience, and to learn more about the Adventist faith, including what the church believes about Christ’s death and resurrection. After a lengthy conversation, his barber shared the church’s Sabbath belief, and handed Willie a copy of The Great Controversy.
He beamed as he bid farewell to his new friends. “To tell the truth, their love won me over,” says Willie. “Their smiles . . . and they literally held my hand as I walked through.”
Willie reflects on the two-day experience: “It’s like it changed my life. I’m a Christian already, and I’ve dealt with different denominations, and for an organization — or organism as I’d like to call it because it’s a living thing — to come together like this, as one, well,” he adds with a grin, “I’ve been converted a little bit. I’m thankful for this Seventh-day Adventist venture.”
Prayer as Thanks
|Beverly A. Johnson, known as Afrodyete, gives thanks in song as volunteers and patients in the clinic’s dental care waiting area look on.
Photo by Jonathan Peninoy
The sounds of dental drills and suction devices were no match for the a capella performance of “The Prayer” that rose from one of the dental patients at YBPHLA. Patients and volunteers stopped in their tracks to listen to the dulcet tones. As those gathered in the waiting area clapped at the conclusion of the impromptu performance, the singer finished by saying, “Thank you! This is my way saying thanks, I wanted to give something back to the people here.”
Beverly A. Johnson, known as Afrodyete, has lived in Los Angeles for 37 years. For decades she has worked as an actress, singer, and poet. “I thrive on doing creative things, and I’m not afraid of hard work,” she says. “I believe in action first, talk second.”
Afrodyete is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, the second oldest of five children. The 60-year-old says she came to the clinic because “I need dental work, like a lot of people who showed up here today. And to see what else I can get done.” Afrodyete, after the dental clinic, was also planning for a visit to primary care for an examination and treatment for an ear injury.
“A lady on the bus had a flyer and gave it to me,” Afrodyete explains how she discovered the mega clinic. “At first I wasn’t going to come, but then I saw that you guys were doing crowns. That’s what I need, so I decided to come.”
But why did she break out in song? She says, “I’m not of the same faith as you guys, but I get spiritual messages sometimes and I got one that said I should thank these people for what they did. . . in song. . . . And it came to me: ‘The Prayer.’ It’s a beautiful song and I felt that it was a song that could be shared with people of different backgrounds as well.”
Afrodyete, despite waiting all day — and having to come back the next — for dental treatment, is glad she chose to visit YBPHLA. “I appreciate being here and pray that it can continue — people really need the service. And at this point in time I really need this because,” she adds with a chuckle, “I have an event coming up this September at the Ford Amphitheatre and I don’t need every other tooth missing.”
After this experience she prays “that I’ll be a bigger blessing to people in the future.”
Passing on the Blessing — in Color
|Lee Anne Selleck learns healthy lifestyle principles from a mega clinic volunteer after receiving her new prescription for glasses.
Photo by Kimberly Luste Maran
Getting her vision checked was Lee Anne Selleck’s top priority at YBPHLA. A Walter Hoving Home resident and group leader, the 61-year-old diabetic also got blood work done in the primary care zone. “I needed a new pair of glasses,” says Lee Anne. “In the home we don’t work until we’ve completed our studies. We do fundraising for the home but we basically focus on studying and school. [Clinics are] one of the ways we can get our health care.”
After all her tests were completed, and her new prescription issued, Lee Anne had the opportunity to pick out new frames from the hundreds available. Getting her choice down to two, a lavender-colored square frame and oval red-metal frame, she deliberated for a few minutes then went with the red.
Lee Anne, who arrived as the clinic opened at 7 a.m., made her last two stops just after lunch time. She received lifestyle counseling followed by a visit with a chaplain, who prayed with her. Lee Anne, guided to the next stop, the final check out, where she learned when and where she was to pick up her glasses, clutched a gift bag filled with free literature that included Ellen White’s The Great Controversy and The Ministry of Healing, Signs of the Times magazine, and an Amazing Facts publication. Lee Anne, who helped several of the 20 women from the home where she lives before she went through the clinic, was one of the last of her group to complete her medical rounds. When she rejoined her group, after exiting to an ovation, the women greeted her cheerfully.
“We have quite a few women who have had their lives shattered . . . they have to have some kind of ongoing care so we’ve all come today as a group to make sure everyone gets the care they need,” Lee Anne says. The home’s associate director signed the residents, or “students,” up based on personal needs.
Lee Anne describes the Walter Hoving Home, as a “discipleship for women, completely Bible-based, helping women who are having problems with domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, or other life-shattering occurrences. . . . It’s somewhere they can give their problems to the Lord.”
Lee Anne and the other students take parenting classes and anger management classes, as needed, with daily classroom study and instruction. Deep Bible study is also required. The students usually stay between six months and a year. “You can go back to work, or back to school,” says Lee Anne. “They take care of all your needs until you’re ready to get back into the world again.
Originally from Northern California, Lee Anne came to the Los Angeles area for a job. But then, she says, “I got into a bad relationship. That’s why I ended up in the home.”
Lee Anne is determined to take her experiences, learn from them, and, in turn, help others. Having some of the health care she needed taken care of is a step in that direction. She says, “It was a long day, but, you know, it has been a good day. I was offered lunch, water, as I was going through the process. . . . And,” she smiles, “I brought a book with me.”
“I was happy to hear that this [clinic] was done by the Seventh-day Adventists,” shares Lee Anne. “I really like them, actually. Every time I’ve run into someone from a Seventh-day Adventist church they’ve been very kind, and I appreciate that. Adventists have helped me at other times through my life.”
“Being there [in Hoving Home] and learning, I’m also passing on the blessing. And this experience here [today] will also help me do just that.”
Lee Anne adds, “I’d like to go back to school. I love to watercolor and draw, and I was thinking about getting regular training. I’ve done some but not enough. I don’t know, I just want to be able to express myself . . . with color.”
Your Best Pathway to Health provides, medical, dental, eye care, surgery and support services including radiology, laboratory and pharmacy services, plus preventive medicine and legal services, all free of charge.
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