Thankful for Charity in the East Valley
By Tony Aguilar
As a resident of the Eastern Coachella Valley, I can personally attest to the feeling that I live in the middle of nowhere. The feeling of disconnect is made evident by the lack of media coverage, emergency response and access to medical care just to name a few “disconnects.” But in the spirit of the holiday season, this “resident of the far reaches of the world” will attest to one thing and that is the fact that charity is bountiful in the Eastern Coachella Valley.
Charities and services such as the Flying Doctors, FIND Food Bank and countless church organizations flood to the far reaches of the Eastern Coachella Valley on a regular basis to give back to residents living in deplorable conditions. Without the presence and help of these organizations, life would be that much harder for these humble-working folk.
Many Eastern Coachella Valley residents make less than $10,000 a year. They live in squalor and have no health insurance. The Flying Doctors is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that aims to improve the health and well-being of geographically-diverse peoples through education and the provision of no-cost, high-quality medical, dental, and optometric clinics. The organization serves Mexico, Central and South America, and migrant labor populations of southeast California. Since 1975, the organization has offered more than 250 short-term medical, dental, optometry, and other healthcare clinics, treating over 7,000 patients per year. The bi-annual Flying Doctors event in the Coachella Valley provides life-saving services to a population that would not have access to free medical services otherwise.
Food banks and shelters such as the FIND Food Bank and Martha’s Village and Kitchen serve many dilapidated trailers parks, such as Duroville in the community of Thermal. FIND (Food in Need of Distribution) Food Bank is a proud partner of the nationally known organization, “Feeding America.” For the past 27 years, FIND has provided much needed food assistance, nutritional education and basic essential items to those in need in Eastern Riverside and Southern San Bernardino. FIND is able to accomplish the amazing task of feeding the needy in the Eastern Coachella Valley procure food through their rescue food program, food donations, local farmers initiative “Farm to Family,” USDA, and corporate Food Donations due to their affiliation with Feeding America.
Martha’s Village & Kitchen serves nearly 300,000 meals a year to more than 3,500 children, families and adults. Their food services program provides three meals a day for the Village’s Transitional and Emergency Shelter residents. Each month, Martha’s Village partners with Sacred Heart Parish in Palm Desert and uses its facilities, equipment, and staff to distribute food to our residents in Duroville, one of the most impoverished areas of Riverside County.
The communities that make up the Eastern Coachella Valley include: Coachella, Thermal, Mecca and Oasis. Many of the residents of these communities are migrant farm workers. They live in cramped trailer parks, earn minimum wage and have limited access to health care and in many cases tainted water sources. Just when all hope seems to go bleak in the Eastern Coachella Valley, a local charity rolls through town serving hot meals and dishing out services that many other communities do not have access to. This holiday season I am thankful that my community, my fellow kin and I are supported and aided by the generosity of those who are willing to give it.