Venice Family Clinic Marks 50 Years of Helping Those Who Need It Most

Imagine you're a single parent who has to make a terrible choice of seeing a doctor for a scary infection or putting food on the table. Or if you're living on the street and sustain an injury, but you know that you'll be turned away at a regular doctor for lack of insurance and paperwork. Or maybe your stress and anxiety have reached the cracking point and you need help, now, but don't know where to turn. Add a pandemic to the mix, as well as deep divides over racial and economic inequality, and there are even more challenges to basic survival for the most vulnerable among us.

Fortunately, there are angels in the midst of all this, and you'll find plenty of them at Venice Family Clinic, which marks its 50th year of service to the community in October. More than 350 staff and nearly 1,400 volunteers, including medical professionals, therapists, and others, offer patients a holistic approach to healthcare, with the full understanding that public and personal health depends on entire systems. In addition to providing medical and dental care to more than 28,000 community members each year, the Clinic, with 14 locations, also delivers important programs such as substance use treatment, mental health services, vision screenings, child development classes, health education, prescription medications, domestic violence counseling, HIV services, street medicine for people experiencing homelessness, and health-insurance enrollment services. Before the pandemic, the Clinic provided nutritious fruits and vegetables to 200 people every two weeks, but has since ramped up to expand fresh food distributions to at least 1,700 people every week. There are also plans underway to expand the Early Head Start program for preschool-aged children.

Venice Family Clinic Board Chair Joan E. Herman says the clinic has helped transform the lives of many low-income people in the region. "Venice Family Clinic's integrated approach to providing comprehensive primary health care recognizes that both clinical and social factors impact our patients' health and well-being. It has become a powerful advocate and catalyst for creating healthier families and, by extension, healthier communities. In the middle of a pandemic, and with long overdue conversations about health and racial equity at the forefront, the Clinic and its leadership are more important than ever."

To honor its 50 years of groundbreaking work, the Clinic will host a Week of Action Oct. 11-17 that includes motivating our community to help its most vulnerable neighbors with food and meal distribution, voter registration, creation of homeless hygiene kits, toy drives for the holidays, reading to kids, and assembly of back to school backpacks.

Whether you need help or you're in a position to offer time, talent or donations, visit venicefamilyclinic.org/50years.