In honor of Virginia B. Andes, I would like to thank the organization for its superb volunteer work in the delivery and facilitation of Medical, Pharmacy and Wellness Services to the under-served in Charlotte County.
I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. I am one of six siblings whose parents migrated from Puerto Rico believing in a better life for their children. It was not an easy life growing up in Chicago, surrounded by gangs at every street corner, drugs, and other social and economic barriers. Thinking back, it all seemed very normal not knowing better or what was ahead of me. My parents pushed for education and told us that our future depended on it.
I went on to study Information Technology, an area of study I share in common with the late Virginia B. Andes. I did not fully understand my unintentional connection to her until I arrived here in Port Charlotte on November 12, 2019.
My father, a 33-year resident of Punta Gorda, welcomed me into his home for what we both thought would be a temporary stay. While hopeful, I felt an urgency to find employment to support myself, along with obtaining medical insurance for my severe essential tremors, often mistaken for Parkinson’s Disease.
My essential tremor was at the root of interview discrimination. Certainly, no one goes into an interview starting out with explaining their medical condition. Mine is a severe case of essential tremors, with unpredictable head bobbing, involuntary jaw twitching, hand shaking, brain confusion, extreme social anxiety and sleeping disturbances.
Upon my arrival to Charlotte County, I had enough medication for a few months. And I felt if I could ration it, I could make it last until surely I would find employment and my medical needs would be met. I used a pill splitter and rationed my medication. In doing this, my tremors worsened, along with my anxiety.
The unforeseen impacts of COVID-19 casts a shadow over millions worldwide, including myself. I was desperate for medical assistance. I called a number of places, all of which would charge an amount I simply could not pay to see a Doctor, and the additional cost of the medication overwhelmed me.
I was regretful for believing in a new beginning. I could no longer see a future ahead of me; instead, I lived day-to-day praying for something I could not see ahead of me. I was filled with shame, regret and uncertainty. The doubt and hopelessness consumed my days and nights, wondering if the nearest bridge was my answer.
My Father a devoted man of God, said to me repeatedly, while I found myself broken, “God, will open doors where not man can open them.” I found peace, in those words and played it back in my mind daily.
One day while not feeling well, I drove to Bayfront Health where I was treated for conjunctivitis. I explained my other immediate needs for medical assistance and was directed to Virginia B.Andes [Volunteer Community Clinic].
Afterwards, I sat in my car and looked across at Virginia B. Andes. It was at that moment I felt a peace come over me, knowing I could get my medication and begin to feel some level of normal.
Thank you, Bayfront Health Port Charlotte and Fawcett Memorial Hospital for supporting Virginia B. Andes and its overall mission and future sustainability. Most importantly, thank you Virginia B. Andes memory and volunteers for your ongoing commitment to the under-served of Charlotte County.