Joining Hands to Uplift the Community
Since 2020, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been honored to support Manos Que Sobreviven (MQS) in making a difference in the community. Manos Que Sobreviven, which translates to “Hands That Survive,” is a nonprofit based in northeast Los Angeles dedicated to promoting healthy bodies and minds for families with children who have special needs. MQS Founder and President Alberto Galvan was inspired to help others by the help he received as a young boy in Tijuana, Mexico.
“I come from a very poor family,” says Galvan, who was born to teenage parents. “When I was 8 years old, an agency from Southern California came to our town looking for poor families to sponsor. My mother brought me to that program, and then a family wanted to sponsor me. They gave a monthly donation to the agency, and I got food and clothes from the agency. That helped my family, and I promised to give back what that nonprofit gave to me. It was in my mind and my heart for many years.”
After immigrating to America and finding work, one of the first things Galvan did was share what little he had. “My first paycheck, I used it to buy food for the homeless on Skid Row.”
It is fitting that food distributions were the first form of community support organized by MQS. By partnering with the L.A. Regional Food Bank, MQS has distributed food to the community since 2020—which is also the year volunteer team members from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles reached out to join hands with MQS.
MQS Community Wellness Fair
Last October, CHLA’s Office of Community Affairs was proud to host and sponsor the 2022 Manos Que Sobreviven Community Wellness Fair. The annual event is an opportunity for local families to learn about optimizing their health and wellness and to receive food boxes and other essential items at no cost.
There was lots of excitement and anticipation leading up to the MQS Community Wellness Fair—the first of its kind locally since the onset of the pandemic. When the day came, not even the heavy rain could keep enthusiastic neighbors and local organizations from coming together in the spirit of community.
During the four-hour event, more than 800 families accessed services including free health and dental screenings, and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as food distribution provided by the L.A. Regional Foodbank. More than 300 families in vehicles participated in drive-through food distribution. In addition, representatives from local health agencies, schools and other community organizations were on hand to educate the public about resources available to support them.
“It was a phenomenal event,” says Rolando Gomez, MBA, Director, Community Relations and Strategic Initiatives at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Neighbors showed up and participated, then they called other neighbors and more showed up. Food was shared. Health information and resources including Covid-19 vaccinations were provided. On the education side, all the local schools and many of our community partners were represented and shared the great work that they are doing.”
In addition to CHLA, the Community Wellness Fair was supported by 20 other participating organizations, including local neighborhood councils, the Los Angeles Police Department, Comprehensive Housing Information and Referrals for People Living with HIV/AIDS (CHIRP) Los Angeles, Vision y Compromiso Health Promoter Network, Los Angeles City Council District 13 representatives, student volunteers from nine schools in the L.A. Unified School District, and more.
A strong show of support from CHLA
Dozens of CHLA team member volunteers also stepped up to serve at the fair. Volunteers included 28 members of CHLA’s Community Impact Champions Network (CICN) and members of the hospital’s Partners for Latina/o/x Advancement, Transdisciplinary Inclusion, Community, and Advocacy (PLATICA) enterprise resource group.
Also on hand were representatives from CHLA’s Office of Community Affairs, Facilities and Support Services, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, the Amerman Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program, and the Pulmonology Clinic and Clinical Research. Roberta Kato, MD, an attending physician in the Department of Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, spent time educating attendees of all ages about asthma and the signs to watch for in case of an attack.
Throughout the day, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles was recognized for its generous support—not only of the Community Wellness Fair, but of the overall health and wellness of the local neighborhood. The hospital was honored to receive a proclamation for its commitment to the community from the office of L.A. City Councilmember Hilda Solis.
“Every single time someone presented they said, ‘Thank you, CHLA. You are a good neighbor,’ Gomez says with pride. “All the great initiatives and efforts we have been working to promote, to bring together our neighbors and partners, came to life at that event.”
“Family and children’s health are at the core of our mission,” says Galvan, “and we are very grateful for the support of Children’s Hospital. This applies not only to this event but to all the CHLA volunteers we receive in our other efforts.”
One nonprofit helping another
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has a longstanding commitment to improving the health and wellness of its local communities—a legacy that dates back to its founding in 1901. More than 120 years later, community benefit and impactful collaboration remain essential components of the hospital’s mission.
Galvan is grateful for the support of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles because he sees how the partnership’s benefits go beyond directly helping community members. He credits CHLA with helping him find his own path to becoming a stronger community leader. Partnering with hospital leaders on the Community Wellness Fair taught him important skills, including project management and how to grow the size of events.
“When an agency like Children’s Hospital Los Angeles helps nonprofits like mine—just a small nonprofit—that means a lot because we sometimes feel like we are by ourselves,” says Galvan. “But I’m so happy, so grateful to CHLA because it’s not helping me only, it’s helping all of my team—20 to 30 volunteers a week—and they help all of the community, because the community knows there are people there to give you a hand.”