medicine at Brown University. Photos: Fred Bauermeister Photography
Caitlin Takeda has volunteered at the Free Clinic a little over six years. She has been accepted to the Liberal Medical Education Program, concentrating in Biology and Visual Art with a guaranteed spot to follow in the Brown Warren Alpert School of Medicine. Takeda credits the volunteers, physicians, and patients with making the volunteer experience worthwhile and engaging. “The patients at the Clinic are so appreciative, humble and kindhearted,” said Takeda. Takeda credits the guidance of Clinic Administrator, Lupita Gonzalez, for creating a warm and welcoming environment at the Clinic. “I love receiving a big hug from her each week; she is like a second mom to me.”
Elliot Kang has volunteered at the Clinic for a little over two years. Kang is headed to Brown University to study Public Health. As a Free Clinic volunteer, Kang has worked in the front office answering phones, inputting patient information in the electronic health system, and making appointments. He also takes patient vitals and shadows doctors. Kang, like Takeda, credits the friendly environment and the Clinic volunteers’ dedication to doing their very best to help the patients as the reason he enjoys volunteering at the Clinic. Elliot says he also wants to change the healthcare paradigm to be more inclusive and effective as often times there is a stigma attached to seeking services at a free clinic.
Both Takeda and Kang have been every involved in health and medical extracurricular activities all throughout high school. Caitlin was the president of the Oak Park Future Med Club and was a chapter co-founder of Oak Park’s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). Elliot was one of the founders of the Health Awareness Club at Harvard-Westlake. The Health Awareness Club provides education to fellow students on such subjects as the importance of organ donation and proper nutrition. The Club hosts a school blood drive and members also volunteer at many health events.
Takeda cites her volunteer activities with the Free Clinic as being critical in helping her gain admission to her desired course of study at Brown. “I didn't need years of expensive college counseling to get into college because there's something genuine about volunteering at a free clinic that college admissions officers notice,” said Takeda. Kang said that having the Clinic on his application helped him emphasize how he wanted to “help the community and serve others through medicine.”
Beyond granting training experience to high school students like Takeda and Kang, the Free Clinic offers several opportunities for training and experience for various professional careers. According to Executive Director Fred Bauermeister, the Free Clinic offers training for individuals interested in becoming licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Family Practice Physicians and Ambulatory Care Pharmacists through various programs. “We are happy that we can both provide a valuable service to the community and an opportunity to train professionals,” said Bauermeister, “and future professionals like Caitlin and Elliot.”
About the Free Clinic of Simi Valley The Free Clinic of Simi Valley has provided continuous service since its establishment in 1971 as a non-profit, volunteer-based charitable community service organization. The mission of the Free Clinic of Simi Valley is to provide medical care, counseling, dental, and legal assistance to individuals and families in need, regardless of their ability to pay. This includes those of all ages, ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds, who are unable to use traditional resources within the community. The Free Clinic of Simi Valley is a GuideStar Gold Exchange participant. For more information, visit: www.FreeClinicSV.com and follow the Free Clinic on Facebook www.Facebook.com/FreeClinicSV, on Twitter www.Twitter.com/FreeClinicSimi and on Instagram at http://www.Instagram.com/FreeClinicSimi